6 September, 2012
NZ seeks to protect Antarctica’s Ross Sea region
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully today announced New Zealand will submit a proposal for a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Ross Sea region.
The proposal will be submitted tomorrow to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which is part of the Antarctic Treaty System and manages the marine living resources in the waters around Antarctica.
“If successful, this will be the largest MPA anywhere in the world - nine times the size of New Zealand,” Mr McCully says.
The New Zealand proposal protects ecologically important features and habitats, including winter ice free areas (known as polynyas), the entire Victoria Coast from McMurdo Sound to Cape Adare, the Balleny Islands, and almost the entire Ross Sea continental shelf.
Mr McCully says New Zealand discussed the feasibility of a joint proposal with the United States, but each country will offer a separate proposal for CCAMLR’s consideration.
“New Zealand and the United States have a close relationship in the Antarctic Treaty System. The proposals that we are putting forward share many common features, and I have made a commitment to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that we will continue to work closely with the United States to achieve optimal outcomes from the CCAMLR process.”
To achieve a protected area, every CCAMLR member country must agree.
“The Ross Sea region is among the most pristine natural regions in the world and of tremendous conservation and scientific value to current and future generations,” Mr McCully says.
In designing New Zealand’s MPA proposal, the government listened to the views of domestic stakeholders, including environmental NGOs, the fishing industry, members of the science community, and also to other CCAMLR members.
New Zealand’s proposal is similar to a draft proposal floated last year, with some adjustments.
The proposal would enable the toothfish fishery to continue in areas outside the MPA.
Details of New Zealand’s Ross Sea region MPA proposal will be available next week after it has been formally submitted to CCAMLR.
This year’s CCAMLR meeting will be held from 23 October to 1 November in Hobart, Australia.