Facts on the Ross Sea
- Environmentalists regard the Ross Sea to be the most pristine marine ecosystems in the world.
- The Ross Sea is home to 38% of the world’s Adelie penguin, 30% of the Antarctic Petrels and 6% of Antarctic mink whale population.
- Krill, the staple food of many whale and seal species, is also abundantly found in the Ross Sea.
- Unlike most of the world’s oceans it has remained free from overfishing, mining, invasive species and widespread pollution.
- The Ross Sea is the most productive area in the Southern Ocean and home to and incredible array of flora and fauna, many found nowhere else on the planet.
Facts on the agreement
- In effect, the Ross Sea will become the world’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA).
- It was proposed jointly by the US and New Zealand at a meeting in Hobart, Australia and was accepted by the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
- Declaring an area as an MPA involves limiting or prohibiting certain activities in order to boost habitat protection and specific conservation.
- The CCAMLR declared Ross Sea a “no take zone” where the marine life as well as the minerals is protected from human interference.
- It covers an area of 1.55million sqkm. ie, 72%of the Ross Sea.
- Special zones will be provided where fishing of krill and tooth fish will be allowed solely for research purposes.
- The MPA agreement has a validity of 35 years.
- It is expected to come into force in December 2017.
Ray of hope for endangered marine life
It is observed that the MPA agreement was initially proposed for a period of 50 years, but due to objection from Russia, it had to be reduced to 35. The WWF has expressed its opinion that this agreement does not meet the World Conservation Union’s definition for MPA, which requires it to be permanent. However, declaring the Ross Sea as an MPA is indeed a land mark event in protecting marine ecosystems. It being the very first MPA set up in international waters is expected to act as a precedent in achieving the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s recommendation of protection for 30% of the world’s oceans.
– News item compiled by Hari Krishna V R