Historic agreement to protect a vast swathe of Antarctica's ocean
Twenty-four countries and the EU have agreed to create the world's largest protected marine area in the Ross, Antarctica.
Fishing is to be banned from an area the size of France and Spain for at least 35 years.
The agreement was reached today at the end of two weeks of discussions between delegates from 24 countries and the EU in Hobart, at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
This is the first marine park to be created in international waters and sets an important precedent in protecting the world's oceans.
The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is of crucial importance as it is estimated that it produces three-quarters of the nutrients that sustain life in the rest of the world's oceans.
While it may be low in diversity it is vast in terms of absolute numbers with more whales, seals, penguins, flying seabirds living there than anywhere else.
Its annual plankton bloom is the planet's greatest season ecological event - the cornerstone of a food chain which spreads around the world.
Andrea Kavanagh, the director of Antarctic and Southern Ocean work for the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has been working for years to achieve today’s result, said: 'Today, CCAMLR made history by declaring the planet’s largest marine protected area in the Ross Sea.
'This landmark decision represents the first time that nations have agreed to protect a huge area of the ocean that lies beyond the jurisdiction of any individual country and shows that CCAMLR takes its role as protector of Antarctic waters seriously.”
See this great short film about the Ross Sea.