Antarctic Alliance group seeks marine reserves

An alliance of major conservation and environmental groups is calling for the establishment of a series of marine reserves around Antarctica, with a particular focus on the Ross Sea.

In a report released this week, the Antarctic Ocean Alliance identified 19 areas that should be included within a Southern Ocean network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – with the most critical region to protect being the Ross Sea. The report highlights the fragile biodiversity of the Ross Sea, believed to be home to almost 10,000 different species.

The Alliance is a coalition of a number of environmental and conservation groups, including Greenpeace and Forest & Bird, campaigning to create the largest network of ‘no-take’ marine reserves on the planet.

The Alliance is focusing their attention on the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a body established as part of the Antarctic Treaty System to protect the species and ecosystems of the Southern Ocean.

The CCAMLR is currently working towards establishing a series of MPAs and is considering Ross Sea marine reserve proposals from both the US and New Zealand. The Antarctic Ocean Alliance ,while supporting the need for a reserve, believes the the area of the Ross Sea included in these proposals is insufficient and has included an extended reserve proposal in their report (see left). The next full CCALMR meeting takes place in Hobart in October.

The Alliance is supported by several high profile personalities including entrepreneur Richard Branson, leading American oceanographer) Sylvia Earle and Actor Edward Norton.

Further SMC resources on Ross Sea protection:

  • Media coverage of  previous calls for Ross Sea protection by the green Party
  • An interview with South African ecologist Professor Steven L  Chown, who urged authorities to establish a Ross Sea marine protected area during a lecture tour in New Zealand.
  • A media briefing and expert commentary from the inaugural Marine Conservation Think Tank in Auckland, featuring Dr Ed Butler, Manager Antarctic Science, Antarctica New Zealand.

Local and international media coverage of the report and campaigning (see video) by the Antarctic Ocean Alliance includes:

New Zealand Herald: Group calls for massive Antarctic reserve Ambitious-Ross-Sea-marine-reserve-bid Antarctic wildlife (Images)

NY Times: Alliance Seeks Reserves in Antarctic

Sky News: Massive Antarctic marine reserve proposed

Radio New Zealand: Push to protect Ross Sea

3 News: Massive Antarctic reserve proposed

MSN News: Antarctic reserve misguided: fishing group

NZ Herald: Call for ban on Antarctic fishing

TVNZ News: Ambitious Antarctic Ocean plan revealed