Nations Unite to Create World’s Largest Marine Reserve in Antarctica

Nations Unite to Create World’s Largest Marine Reserve in Antarctica

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In a groundbreaking agreement between 24 different countries and the European Union, the world’s largest marine reserve will be established in Antarctica’s Ross Sea.

The meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources that took place in Hobart, Australia on Friday finally agreed to designate 600,000 square miles as a zone protected from harmful human activity – that’s twice the area of Texas.

72% of the marine protected area will be a ‘no-take’ zone, which forbids all fishing, while other sections will permit some harvesting of fish and krill for scientific research. The sanctuary will also provide a valuable control space for researchers to compare the ecosystems of Antarctic waters with human interference to those without.

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Since the location is a popular commercial fishing spot for China and Russia, the agreement is a long-awaited victory in environmental preservation and political harmony.

“This has been an incredibly complex negotiation which has required a number of Member countries bringing their hopes and concerns to the table at six annual CCAMLR meetings as well as at intersessional workshops,” says CCAMLR Executive Secretary, Andrew Wright.

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“This decision represents an almost unprecedented level of international cooperation regarding a large marine ecosystem comprising important benthic and pelagic habitats. It has been well worth the wait because there is now agreement among all Members that this is the right thing to do and they will all work towards the [marine protected area’s] successful implementation,” he said.

Though the sanctuary’s protection won’t go into full effect until December 2017, the polar ‘Garden of Eden’ is home to the richest collection of wildlife whose survival will benefit greatly from the agreement.

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