Greens wants new Ross Sea zone policed

Obama has expanded or created several marine preserves during his time in office, as the world increasingly recognizes the need to protect marine life. Scientists believe that the marine park can be a platform for a deeper understanding of climate change impacts. But previous negotiations had failed because of opposition raised by some countries, most notably Russian Federation.

"For the first time, countries have put aside their differences to protect a large area of the Southern Ocean and worldwide waters", said Mike Walker, project director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, calling the outcome "momentous".

The Ross Sea Marine Protected Area is as large as France, Spain and Germany combined, and will be a no-go zone for fishing vessels for the next 35 years.

The agreement is "remarkable" at a time of "strained political relations", as U.N. Environment's Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh says in a statement.

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The Ross Sea is named after British explorer Sir James Ross and his great, great, great granddaughter Phillipa Ross said the family was thrilled it was safeguarded.

The area, home to most of the planet's penguins and whales, will become the largest marine park in the world.

The new MPA, set to come into force in December 2017, will limit or entirely prohibit certain activities in order to meet specific conservation habitat protection, ecosystem monitoring and fisheries management objectives, according to the CCAMLR.

Mike Walker, Project Director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, said the deal was an important milestone for ocean conservation, but urged countries to go further. In the remaining zone, commercial fishing will be allowed with some conditions.

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Chris Johnson, WWF-Australia's ocean science manager, said: "Today's agreement is a turning point for the protection of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean".

The 25-member commission which reached the proposal includes the United States, China, Russia and the European Union. Additionally, a 110,000 sq km "special research zone" will be established on the outside of the no-take zone, allowing catching of krill and toothfish only for research purposes. "The limited 35-year restriction for protection of the Ross Sea contradicts the scientific advice that marine protection should be long-term".

"For the first time, countries have put aside their differences to protect a large area of the Southern Ocean and global waters", Walker said.

"I want the Rough Sea to be the first in a series of marine protected areas around Antarctica".

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"There's massive momentum in the world right now to protect our oceans, " said Luis Morago, campaign director at Avaaz.


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