Sunday 23rd October 2016                 Change text size:

Proposed Antarctic reserve downsized after government opposition

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via flickr

The size of a proposed ocean reserve in Antarctic waters has been scaled back because of pressure from fishing nations.

Governments, such as Russia, Norway, China, South Korea and Japan, were opposed to the size of the suggested Ross Sea protected area.

A joint plan from New Zealand and the United States originally suggested a marine protected area (MPA) of 2.3 million square kilometres, including a ‘fully protected’ area of 1.6 million square kilometres, but this has been reduced by 40 per cent.

It is hoped the reduction will lead to support from other member nations on the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

The Antarctic Ocean Alliance’s (AOA) Steve Campbell said, “The thirty organisations that make up the AOA would be deeply concerned that the US and New Zealand could be giving away too much, leaving us with a protected area that reduces protection for the Ross Sea. That would mean missing the opportunity to protect some of the critical and unique marine ecosystem while they are still intact.”

Antarctic waters make up about ten per cent of the world’s seas and are home to almost 10,000 species. The new proposal will be considered next month when commission delegates meet in Hobart, Australia.

Some of the countries involved in the negotiations are calling for a sunset clause. This would mean that any agreement would expire in 10-30 years and would need to be reviewed.

Further reading:

Antarctic study to use robot submarines and gadget-carrying seals

Daily Mail and Telegraph criticised for shortsighted Arctic ice loss reporting

Closing ozone hole may heat up Antarctica, says scientist

East Antarctic ice sheet not immune to climate change

Arctic Ocean more affected by global warming than Antarctic

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