The Ross Sea Marine Protected Area, announced October 27th, 2016, is now the largest marine sanctuary in the world.
A 598,000 square mile area of wild ocean was protected today by an international coalition of 25 countries. The new Ross Sea Marine Protected Area sets aside habitat for emperor penguins, orcas, seals, whales, and 16,000 more species of marine life.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) announced the international agreement today. It protects an area in the Ross Sea, near the southeast coast of Antarctica, that is nearly the size of Alaska.
The member alliance, including the United States, European Union, and 23 other countries, unanimously supported the preserve. It was originally proposed by the U.S. and Australia in 2011.
“This decision represents an almost unprecedented level of international cooperation,” said Andrew Wright, CCAMLR Executive Secretary.
Many details, such as enforcement of regulations and penalties for violations that go into effect in December 2017, have yet to be finalized.
Ross Sea Protections: No Fishing
The Ross Sea remains largely untouched by human activities. It is home to an estimated 16,000 marine species and a high concentration of nutrients that sustain krill blooms.
Due partly to these blooms, a diverse ecosystem thrives there.
72 percent of the protected area — more than 430,000 square miles — will be off-limits to fishing of any kind. Other areas will permit some harvesting of fish and krill for scientific research.
The massive Ross Sea Marine Protected Area will now eclipse the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, designated by President Obama in August, as the world’s largest protected marine habitat.