Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Antarctic expedition supports case for MPA

Antarctic expedition supports case for MPA

---------------------------------

The expedition was organised by the Ministry of Fisheries to gather scientific information to support a New Zealand proposal for a Marine Protected Area (MPA) around the islands, which lie on the edge of the Ross Sea, just where Antarctic waters meet the Southern Ocean.

"New Zealand is committed to the sustainable management of ecosystems in the Ross Sea region and has stated its intention to propose a high seas MPA covering the Balleny Islands archipelago and we need the scientific information to support that.

"We also have legal obligations under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to take an ecosystem approach to management of Antarctic marine resources," Mr Anderton says.

The islands' isolation and local conditions means research in the Balleny Islands has never been easy. They are surrounded by ice for up to 11 months of the year and several of the islands rise nearly 1000 metres from the sea. The near-shore waters are largely uncharted, and anchorages are difficult. Tiama, a 15-metre yacht purpose-built for Antarctic conditions was used, allowing access to previously difficult areas.

Expedition leader Dr Franz Smith says the islands' location - the only land at that latitude for thousands of kilometres - makes the sealife there absolutely unique. The area is a potential hotspot of Antarctic marine life, and scientists believe it may be critical to the health of the entire Ross Sea ecosystem.

The expedition was the first to have put divers into the waters around the Balleny Islands, and hours of videotape from the dives is still to be analysed, though Dr Smith predicts there are more discoveries to be made.

"Diving is so different to sending down a remote video camera. If you think of a remote camera like driving a car, then diving is like walking around with a camera - you just find out so much more about a place," Dr Smith says.

Marine ecologist Dr Nick Shears says the scientific mission has proven hugely successful.

"From this trip alone, we've found the diversity of algae species at the Balleny Islands is equal to or even greater than that of the entire Ross Sea. One or more of these species may be new to science. However, there are still many samples to be unpacked and identified."

Expedition members also photographed and filmed humpback whales for comparison with images from breeding grounds in the tropics to identify which humpback populations make this migration. Scientists also gathered biopsy samples from the whales for stable isotope and DNA analysis.

Another remarkable discovery was waiting ashore. One of the Balleny Islands, Sabrina Island, is an Antarctic Specially Protected Area, partly because of the tiny population of chinstrap penguins living there - the only chinstrap penguins for thousands of kilometres in any direction.

The colony was previously thought to number only a few dozen individuals, but the expedition counted 212 adults and 119 chicks; and discovered a whole new colony on another island.

Scientist Rebecca McLeod says that find was one needing further research.

"It's an amazing discovery, but we don't know why there is such a huge difference between what we found and what others found before us. It is possible that chinstrap populations are expanding rapidly - perhaps as a consequence of climate change. Now that we have done a good job of mapping and counting, we'll have to come back in a few years time to find out what is really happening."

While the expedition data, when analysed, will provide stronger information to support the proposal for a Marine Protected Area around the islands, the proposal will require approval under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and the Antarctic Treaty System before it can proceed.

New Zealand's CCAMLR Commissioner Trevor Hughes, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, welcomed this scientific work. "We are looking forward to the contribution that the results of the Tiama voyage will make to strengthening the scientific case for protection of this unique marine environment," he says.

Download the associated document file here http://www.beehive.govt.nz/Documents/Files/Balleny_islands.doc

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

ALSO:

Corrections Corrected: Supreme Court Rules On Release Dates

Corrections has always followed the lawful rulings of the Court in its calculation of sentence release dates. On four previous occasions, the Court of Appeal had upheld Corrections’ practices in calculating pre-sentence detention. More>>

ALSO:

Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

ALSO:

General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news