The establishment of a 600 000 square mile conservation area in the Southern Ocean goes a long way to preserving some of the wild life living there. Approximately 70% of the area is now designated “no-take” which means that all fishing is prohibited. In the other 30% some fishing and research fishery is allowed.
No mineral extraction will be allowed.
The agreement has 24 countries signed on as well as the EU.
When the agreement was signed on October 28th, it was after six years of negotiations. The Ross Sea is one of the last great natural areas and is increasingly being eyed by the fishing fleets of the world. China is one of the signatories, coming on board last year, and Russia had now agreed as well.
Today's agreement is a turning point for the protection of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean," Chris Johnson, WWF Australia Ocean Science Manager, said. ABC News
Some observers have voiced their disappointment that there is an expiry date on the agreement. The agreement will expire in 2052. As the fishing pressure on the world’s oceans increases along with the increasing human population, warnings that the oceans may be fished out this century have been sounded since at least 2006.
Currently an estimated 85% of oceans are considered overexploited. Better technology and larger, often government subsidized fishing fleets have been able to scoop ever increasing amounts of fish, sharks and mammals from the waters. The current world appetite for shark fin soup has let to the slaughter of millions of sharks, leaving a huge rent in the food web of the oceans.
While it may seem to many that the oceans that cover much of the Earth can’t be affected by humans, we can look to the famous Grand Banks off the east coast of Canada. They have been exploited since the Middle Ages and the bounty seemed endless. Then a rapid decline in the fish was observed. By 1977 the decline was obvious to all and Canada shut the cod fishery down completely in 1992.
In Europe, the North Sea has fed countless generations of people but it too, has been so stressed by overfishing that it can no longer produce in previous quantities.
Russia set aside a large area last year in the Arctic. The US has established a marine reserve around much of Hawaii and some S. Pacific nations have also established large no fishing zones.
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