Antarctica will host the world’s largest marine reserve as a long awaited for agreement has been signed and declared the Ross Sea as a Marine Protected Area.
The agreement, which took six years to be adopted, will mark two new records. As the Ross Sea is an officially protected area, it will become the largest marine zone to be protected.
It also marks the first, and hopefully initial step, that features multiple nations uniting and working together in order to protect a zone situated outside any of the participating members’ jurisdiction.
The Ross Sea is a marine area spanning almost 600,000 square miles and is known as either the Antarctic Serengeti or the Last Ocean.
Both its popular appellative and the importance of its protection come from its pristine ecosystem. The fact that it is located in a remote location has protected it from human generated damages the likes of pollution or irresponsible fishing practices.
As such, the marine ecosystem is in near-pristine shape and offers a diverse and flourishing ecosystem. The zone, now a marine reserve, is the home of more than 10,000 species including whales, orcas, minke and seals.
A considerable number of both emperor and Adelie penguins, endangered species, can be found in the area.
The marine reserve zone is also relevant in terms of scientific importance. As the area has been kept mostly untouched by humans, it offers ecosystem data going as far behind as 170 years ago. This can help scientists better determine the effects of global warming and its possible outcomes.
The marine reserve status, which was ratified this Friday, started became necessary after commercial fishing began targeting the Ross Sea. The fishing trawlers were looking for toothfish and started intruding in the zone’s peaceful existence.
The agreement will come into effect in 2017, in December, and will impose a number of rules and regulations. Amongst the most important is the fact that 72 percent of the marine reserve will be marked as a “no-take” area, which means all fishing will be forbidden.
As the area houses krill fishing, new limitations will be applied over the following five years so as to protect the Ross Sea ecosystem.
The Antarctic area’s fish tonnage numbers are as yet to be changed, however, the agreement will determine new locations for the vessels, further away and out to sea so that breeding grounds and vital feeding places will be protected.
The Ross Sea Marine Reserve agreement is considered a positive step in the right direct in terms of both ecosystem and nature conservation tactics and in the fight against global warming.
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