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Ross Sea protected area: for science or commercial fishing?

30 October 2012

Ross Sea protected area: for science or commercial fishing?

The Green Party is encouraged by reports New Zealand and the United States have finally agreed to a joint proposal for a marine protected area in Antarctica’s Ross Sea, but want to know the details.

The two countries initially submitted separate proposals to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) which is meeting in Hobart, Australia this week.

“A joint US-NZ proposal is an important step forward to protecting the Ross Sea the most pristine ocean in the world. However, we are concerned about the yet-to-be-released details of the proposal,” said Green Party oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“Although the marine protected area is reportedly 2.2 million square kilometres, it is disappointing that only 1.6 million of these will be a no-take area, which is smaller than the no-take areas in each of the initial proposals put forth by the United States and New Zealand Governments.

“We are concerned that 600,000 square kilometres of marine protected area have been reportedly labelled a ‘special research zone’ which would allow for ‘light fishing’.

“What we don’t want to see in the Ross Sea marine protected area is a back-door commercial fishery akin to Japan’s so-called ‘scientific whaling’.

“If the ‘light fishing’ will be for scientific purposes then it should be funded by governments and conducted by scientists, not fishing companies.

“The Green Party hopes that all parties to CCAMLR will agree to a marine protected area for the Ross Sea that proves to be an effective protected area, not one that allows for commercial fishing under the guise of science.

“The Ross Sea is the least impacted ocean on the planet and is of tremendous ecological, conservation and scientific importance to current and future generations,” said Mr Hughes.

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