Antarctica’s Ross Sea Designated as Marine Protected Area – Point Blue science contributes to major conservation victory

In late October, 2016, just as Point Blue’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Grant Ballard, and colleagues left for their austral summer field work on Adélie Penguins and environmental change in Antarctica, the 24-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) unanimously agreed to establish the Ross Sea as the world’s largest marine protected area.

Working over seven years to make this conservation dream a reality, Point Blue and partners established the scientific basis for the protection of the Ross Sea, the world’s last near-pristine ocean. See here for a summary of the seminal 2012 publication led by Point Blue and here for the full list of recent publications we co-authored and presented on to leaders of CCAMLR’s member countries.

The agreement provides that certain human activities, such as commercial fishing, will be prohibited across a vast area in order to meet a set of conservation and wildlife habitat protection goals that Point Blue helped to establish. Some concessions were made – for example, commercial fishing interests will be allowed to continue fishing within a designated zone for the long-lived Antarctic toothfish, a critical member of the Ross Sea food web. Also, many had sought for this agreement to be permanent, however a “sunset clause” allows it to be reviewed in 35 years.

The good news is that the Ross Sea will remain relatively protected from human-driven impacts, helping to sustain thriving marine wildlife during this time of rapid climate change.  What a significant milestone for conservation.

Please join me in congratulating Grant and his science team with a gift to Point Blue in their honor.

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