New proposal for Ross Sea

12 Sep 2013
The proposal to reduce the MPA in the Ross Sea by 40% is a

The proposal to reduce the MPA in the Ross Sea by 40% is a "tactical mistake"

New Zealand’s decision to reduce the size of the marine protected area (MPA) in the Ross Sea by more than 40% is “a tactical mistake and a significant retreat for Southern Ocean protection”, says the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA).

After agreeing with the US to designate a Ross Sea MPA of 2.3m km², including a “fully protected” area of 1.6m km², New Zealand is now suggesting it may be easier to get the 25 member countries of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to agree on a smaller area

This comes after the original proposal failed to fain full support from the 25 member states at a meeting in July.

“Cutting the amount of protected areas is a reduction that we cannot afford,” said Steve Campbell, director of the AOA.

Andrea Kavanagh, director, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Southern Ocean sanctuaries project, added: “Even more troubling than the important ecosystems left vulnerable by these drastic cuts is the indication from New Zealand that it is still negotiable whether the protections are to be permanent.” 

“On the plus side, the US and NZ have not reduced the scale on the slope and shelf which is a critical area, even though there was not enough coverage in the original proposal and this should be improved,” said Jim Barnes, executive director of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC). “The ‘special research zone’ continues to cause concern given projected levels of fishing allowed there.”

The CCAMLR will have its next meeting in October.

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