There's some great news for marine life this week as the Ross Sea in Antarctica gains protection.
Some 600,000 square miles in the Southern Ocean will become the world's biggest Marine Protected Area (MPA). The protection lasts for 35 years and protects the area from commercial fishing.
This is a great example of how nations - 24 in all plus the EU - can work together and reach an agreement to protect a prestine marine ecosystem which is vital to wildlife. It is hoped that other protected areas will follow.
Delegates from 24 countries and the European Union have agreed that the Ross Sea in Antarctica will become the world's largest marine protected area (MPA). A 1.55 million km2 area of the Ross Sea will be established, with special protection from human activities. The meeting took place in Hobart, Australia, after years of protracted negotiations.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) agreed unanimously to designate the Ross Sea as an MPA.
This new MPA will come into force in December 2017. It will limit or entirely prohibit certain activities so as to meet specific conservation, habitat protection, ecosystem monitoring and fisheries management objectives. And 72% of the MPA will be a 'no-take' zone, which forbids all fishing. Other sections will allow some harvesting of fish and krill for scientific research.
The Ross Sea, its shelf and slope comprise just 2% of the Southern Ocean but it is a vital home to 38% of the world's Adelie penguins, 30% of the world's Antarctic petrels and about 6% of the world's population of Antarctic minke whales. It is also home to vast number of krill which are a staple food for species such as whales and seals. And the region is important to you and I because the nutrients from the deep waters there are carried on currents around the world. The fear is that overfishing and climate change are impacting on their numbers.
The establishment of this enormous marine protected area is a great step forward for the wellbeing of marine life and people everywhere. Here's to more of them!