Russia finally agrees to the creation of the world’s largest marine park
An “unprecedented level of international cooperation” has finally led to the creation of the world’s largest marine park, in the Southern Ocean in Antarctica. The initiative designed to help protect one of the most pristine areas of natural beauty and a wide range of wildlife, including birds, fish, and mammals under threat from commercial fishing, was agreed to on Friday.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources announced that 24 countries and the European Union had reached agreement on establishing the marine protection area in the Ross Sea, a 600,000-square-mile area of the Southern Ocean.
— James Borrell (@James_Borrell) October 28, 2016
The marine park will cover roughly 12 percent of the Southern Ocean, which comprises over 10,000 species, and nearly 40 percent of the world’s Adelie penguins. But the area’s importance extends far beyond its territory, with the BBC reporting that an “upwelling of nutrients from the deep waters are carried on currents around the world.”
The area, which also contains huge amounts of krill, will now be protected from commercial fishing for the next 35 years. The deal had been previously delayed by Russia, which, following negotiations last year, was the only country stopping a consensus. Both Russia and China had fishing interests in the area.
“This decision represents an almost unprecedented level of international cooperation regarding a large marine ecosystem comprising important benthic and pelagic habitats,” CCAMLR Executive Secretary Andrew Wright said in a statement.
Evan Bloom from the U.S. State Department, the head of the U.S. delegation to the meeting, told the Guardian he was “thrilled.”
“I think it’s a really significant moment,” he said. “We’ve been working toward this for many years. It’s taken time to get consensus, but now we have established the world’s largest marine protected area.”
Cover: Hinrich Baesemann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images