Friday, October 28, 2016

New Zealand hails unanimous agreement on Antarctic marine reserve

The New Zealand government Friday hailed a breakthrough agreement to create the world's biggest marine protected area (MPA) in the Ross Sea region of the Antarctic.


"At its annual meeting in Hobart this week, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) unanimously agreed to a New Zealand-United States proposal to establish a marine protected area in the Ross Sea," Foreign Minister Murra McCully said.

"New Zealand has played a leading role in reaching this agreement which makes a significant contribution to global marine protection," McCully said in a statement.

"The new marine protected area will cover roughly 1.55 million square kilometers, of which 1.12 million square km will be a no fishing zone."

The proposal required some changes in order to gain the unanimous support of all 25 CCAMLR members, said McCully.

But the final agreement balanced marine protection, sustainable fishing and science interests, while the boundaries of the MPA would remain unchanged when it came into force on Dec. 1, 2017.

"Negotiations on the MPA started in 2012 and New Zealand would like to acknowledge all parties for coming together to reach an agreement that will safeguard one of the world's few remaining pristine natural environments," McCully said.

The Ross Sea region has an unbroken food-chain, still with all of its top-level predators, according to New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The region also includes one of the most thriving areas of the Southern Ocean, the Ross Sea Shelf.

At different times of the year, the shelf is home to 32 percent of the world's Adelie penguins, 26 percent of emperor penguins, 30 percent of Antarctic petrels, and around half of Ross Sea killer whales, while between 50 percent and 72 percent of South Pacific Weddell seals live there year round.
 [Xinhua/globaltimes.cn]
28/10/16

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