After an agreement between 24 nations and the European Union was made five years after the initial proposal, Ross Sea, Antarctica, will have special protection from human activities such as commercial fishing.
A large area in the Antarctic, nearly as big as Alaska, received this international protection on last Friday, becoming the world’s largest marine reserve as a broad coalition of countries came together to protect 600,000 square miles of water.
Ross Sea is an important area for marine life. According to CNN, about 50 percent of ecotype-C killer whales, 40 percent of Adelie penguins and 25 percent of emperor penguins live in the area covered by the new park.
It is the first marine park created in international waters and will set a precedent for further moves to help the world achieve the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s recommendation that 30% of the world’s oceans be protected.
Under the proposed agreement, which will take effect in December 2017, according to new rules, around 72 percent of the Ross Sea will be a ‘no-take’ zone which forbids all fishing, while other sections will permit some harvesting of fish and krill for scientific research. In these areas, scientists are allowed to take samples of fish and krill to further study the marine ecosystem of the region.
Despite the importance of the marine protected area, which provides pristine sanctuary for endangered marine species and living laboratory for scientists, the agreement will only last for 35 years.
The Ross Sea is a deep bay in the Southern Ocean that many scientists consider to be the last intact marine ecosystem on Earth.