We very much welcome recent news of the approval of a new marine protected area, south of the South Orkney Islands in the Antarctic Peninsula Region. It covers a large area of the Southern Ocean, in the vicinity of the South Orkney Islands (see map below). The proposal put forward by the UK was adopted by the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) at its meeting last week in Tasmania.
The marine protected area, the result of four years of development work, is just under 94,000 square kilometers, which is more than four times the size of Wales. No fishing activities and no discharge or refuse disposal from fishing vessels will be allowed in the area, which will allow scientists to better monitor the effects of human activities and climate change on the Southern Ocean. The marine protected area is expected to be in force in May 2010.
This is an important step towards the establishment of networks of protected areas that will allow for the better conservation and management of marine areas and their living resources. It also provides necessary support for the protection of the marine environment in this area and promotes Antarctica as an area reserved for peace and science.
Both the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Australian Antarctic Division websites contain additional information.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office;