The Ross Sea in Antarctica Becomes World’s Largest Marine Protected Area

Published On:October 28, 2016, 12:12 pm

The gigantic Antarctic bay which is a home to plenty of penguins and killer whales has become world’s hugest safe and protected marine area on Friday. Post five years of negotiations, a United Nations body sealed the deal at a meet in Hobart, Tasmania.

QY Research GroupsWWF Australia Ocean Science Manager Mr. Chris Johnson stated that, "It's near pristine and how many near pristine parts of the ocean do we have left on the planet?"

A total of 24 nations along with the European Union agreed collectively to announce that the Ross Sea in Antarctica is officially a Marine Protected Area post the talks and discussions by the UN’s Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

According to the UN, 50% of ecotype-C killer whales (smallest out of the four types of Southern Hemisphere orcas), 25% of emperor penguins and 40% of Adelie penguins reside in the area which is covered by the new park. The shelf and slope of the Ross Sea consists 2% of the Southern Ocean in spite of it being home to 38% of the world’s Adelie penguins, 30% of the overall Antarctic petrels and approximately 6% of the world’s population of Antarctic minke whales.

David Ainley, a scientist from United States revealed in a statement that, "The data collected from this 'living laboratory' helps us understand the significant changes taking place on Earth right now." He was also the first one who called for the area to be protected.

Although, Johnson expressed that not everybody if completely happy and satisfied with the deal, as it would expire in 35 years. He said, "While we're very excited about this we don't want it to become a precedent for other marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean."

According to him if a new marine park has to be declared, every single country involved must agree and give consensus. He further added, "This has been a long, ongoing, challenging debate and I believe this one of the compromises in terms of getting that 100% consensus."

Johnson mentioned that the WWF will be working towards making the Ross Sea Marine protected forever. He said, "It's critical to set aside these really epic spots for diversity, not just as marine parks but as places that can build resistance to the changing climate."

On Friday, after voting against the new protected area, Russia finally agreed. In a particular statement, a UN spokesperson gave credit to UN Environment’s Patron of the Ocean Lewis Pugh. He has worked really hard for the past two years in order to gain Russia’s agreement.

Not just that, in 2015, he even swum in the icy chilled waters of the Ross Sea just to seek attention for the issue, in what was depicted as “speedo diplomacy.” In a statement, Pugh said, "I am overjoyed," "The Ross Sea is one of the most magnificent places on Earth. It is one of our last great wilderness areas. This is a dream come true."

The United Nations spokesperson said that Pugh had made numerous trips to Russia only to persuade and convince officials of the Ross Sea’s value.

 

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