Members gathered for the latest meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) have agreed to safeguard 1.55 million km2 of the Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean.
This momentous decision will mean the creation of the world’s largest marine protected area in the Ross Sea, protecting whales, dolphins and many other creatures that make this area their home.
WDC has supported the campaign to establish these protected sea areas as part of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA). Previously, moves to create this safe haven in the region had been blocked. However, today’s agreement is a major step forward for conservation.
The Ross Sea is one of the last intact marine ecosystems in the world, home to penguins, Weddell seals, Antarctic toothfish, Antarctic minke whales, and a unique type of orca. The region is critical for scientific research, for studying how marine ecosystems function and understanding the impacts of climate change on the ocean.
WDC’s Marine Protected Areas lead, Erich Hoyt, said; ‘A substantial part of the Ross Sea was protected today, the culmination of work by many people and groups over the past decade and more. This largely intact marine ecosystem include 38% of the world’s Adelie penguins, 26% of the Emperor penguins, and roughly 6% of Antarctic minke whales and 30% of the Ross Sea type orcas. The agreement is for 35 years, not permanent, but this is a HUGE step. Bravo to CCAMLR, the group of governments involved, for this action to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition and all the associated people and groups who have helped over the years to make this day happen!’