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Penguin paradise - world's largest marine park agreed for Antarctica

24 countries and the EU agree the 1.55 million square kilometre Ross Sea marine park will be protected from commercial fishing for three to five years.

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Penguin paradise - world's largest marine park agreed for Antarctica

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After years of negotiations, twenty-four countries and the EU have agreed to create the world’s largest marine park in the Antarctic Ocean.

Meeting in Hobart, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources said the 1.55 million square kilometre Ross Sea marine park would be protected from commercial fishing for three to five years.

Scientists say the marine park will also allow a greater understanding of the impact of climate change.





The details



Under the terms of the landmark deal, fishing will be banned completely in 1.1 million square kilometres of the Sea.

Areas designated as research zones will allow for some fishing for krill and sawfish.



The background



The Ross Sea is seen as one of the world’s most ecologically-important marine areas.

The sanctuary will cover more than 12 percent of the Southern Ocean.

It is home to more than 10,000 species, including most of the world’s penguins, whales, seabirds, colossal squid and Antarctic tooth fish.





What they are saying



Scientists and activists have described the agreement as an historic milestone in global efforts to protect marine diversity.

“The Ross Sea region MPA will safeguard one of the last unspoiled ocean wilderness areas on the planet – home to unparalleled marine biodiversity and thriving communities of penguins, seals, whales, seabirds and fish,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry.



The politics



The agreement is a rare show of international unity and comes after years of negotiations.

Russia agreed to the proposal after blocking conservation proposals on the five previous occasions.

The 25-member commission, which includes Russia, China, the US and the EU, requires unanimous support for decisions.

“They all have diverse economic and economic interests and to get them all to align – especially in the context of divergent economic interests – is quite a challenge,” said Evan Bloom, director at the US State Department and leader of the US delegation.

The Ross Sea decision comes days after plans for a South Atlantic whale, dolphin and porpoise sanctuary were blocked at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Slovenia.




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