Great news! Yesterday 24 nations and the EU agreed to make large parts of the Ross Sea a Marine Protected Area (MPA). This means that this part of the Southern Ocean gets better protection against human influences, mainly fishing industries. The Ross Sea is known as Earths most pristine marine ecosystem, least influenced by human interference (even though some whaling and sealing has been done in the past century).
Despite its remote location this sea is now threatened by fishing vessels fishing on krill or toothfish, thereby disrupting this pristine ecosystem. With the new agreement, these fishing vessels are now banned from the ecological most important areas, giving these fish a good chance to recover from the catches.
Another reason why this agreement is a hopeful thing is that it shows that several countries do really care about the Polar regions and are willing to take action to preserve those remote places. This MPA is the first one protecting an area that is completely outside of territorial waters (besides the New Zealand claim to a part of Antarctica, which is not recognised by most countries) so it has to be made with an international agreement. Let’s hope this is a first step in the creation of more of those MPA’s in other remote parts of the world.
Later this season you’ll read a lot more about the Ross Sea, as I’ll guide two trips to this area in February and March.