Ross Sea: World’s largest marine reserve in Antartic Bay hailed as diplomatic breakthrough
The largest marine reserve in the world has been created through an agreement sealed by 24 nations and the European Union (EU). The Ross Sea, a deep Antarctic Bay 3,500 kilometers south of New Zealand spanning 1.55 million square kilometers, has been designated as off-limits from commercial fishing and mineral exploitation.
Nature reported that the international deal is set to take effect on December 2017. It's the first time in history that countries are united for this kind of objective.
The meeting was held in Hobart, Australia and was signed by members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Russia and Ukraine have been noted for blocking the agreement since its proposal.
Now, both countries have given way and joined the agreement. This indicates a positive development in international relations as Peter Jones, a specialist on marine environmental governance at University College London, said, "Russian support of any agreement is a very positive signal in the current political situation."
Scientists are expecting intensified international marine protection efforts around the globe. Daniel Pauly, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, said, "The designated reserve is a "first dent into the notion that we can't do anything to protect the high seas."
The increasing number of fishing activities in the Ross Sea resulted in the decline of some marine species such as Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) and Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a shrimp-like crustacean that's one of the largest protein sources on Earth and a key creature in the marine food chain off Antarctica.
Russia, which operates a large fishing fleet in the region, will be included in the agreements' compromises. The reserve will be closed to all commercial marine activities. Only a limited area will be assigned for controlled fishing known as research fishing, and a special research zone for limited fishing for toothfish and krill.
In connection to this, the Kremlin expressed a statement in favor of the agreement. In politically turbulent times, Russia is "pleased to be part of this collaborative international effort", Sergei Ivanov, special representative on ecology to Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the BBC.
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