World's largest Marine Protected Area declared in Antarctica

Nov 1, 2016 00:34 IST

The Ross Sea, a deep bay of the Southern Ocean in Antarctica, was declared as world’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) on 28 October 2016. With this, there will be a blanket ban on commercial fishing across about three quarters of that area for 35 years.

It will be the world's largest marine protected area and covers 1.6 million square kilometers.

The deal was clinched after the meeting of Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) consisting of 24 countries and European Union in Hobart, Australia. All the participant nations including the European Union unanimously agreed to create the world's largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the ocean next to Antarctica.

The agreement comes after years of negotiations brokered by the UN's Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. It also saw high-level talks between the US and Russia, which was rejected in the past. Environmentalists have welcomed the move to protect the Earth's most pristine marine ecosystem.

Ross Sea

• The Ross Sea is a deep bay of the Southern Ocean in Antarctica, between Victoria Land and Marie Byrd Land.

• It derives its name from the British explorer James Ross who visited this area in 1841.

• To the west of the sea lies Ross Island and to the east Roosevelt Island, while the southernmost part is covered by the Ross Ice Shelf, and is about 200 miles (320 km) from the South Pole.

• The nutrient-laden water supports an abundance of plankton and this encourages a rich marine fauna.

• At least ten mammal species, six bird species and 95 fish species are found here, as well as many invertebrates, and the sea remains relatively unaffected by human activities.

• Some species of birds that nest in and near the Ross Sea include the Adelie penguin, emperor penguin, Antarctic petrel, snow petrel, and south polar skua.

• Marine mammals in the Ross Sea include the Antarctic minke whale, killer whale, Weddell seal, Crabeater seal, and leopard seal.

• Antarctic toothfish, Antarctic silverfish, Antarctic krill, and crystal krill also swim in the cold Antarctic water of the Ross Sea.

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