An international coalition of 24 nations and the European Union just created the world’s largest protected marine area in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. Almost as large as Alaska, the new safe zone for marine life will encompass 600,000 square miles of ocean southeast of New Zealand.
The agreement, which bans commercial fishing but allows a small amount of “fishing” for research, will take effect December 2017 and remain in place for 35 years, protect breeding grounds for whales, seals, penguins, krill, and other species.
“In addition to the value of fully protecting arguably the most unspoiled ecosystem on the planet, this agreement sets an invaluable precedent for future international cooperation…” said the Center for American Progress’ Michael Conathan.
United States and New Zealand delegations first proposed this marine reserve six years ago but the plan needed the approval of Russia, which was secured on Friday.