Friday, October 28, 2016

The Ross Sea in Antarctica is now officially a marine sancturary!

This is great news!

See a story on the new marine sanctuary on npr here: link

McMurdo Station, the main hub of U.S. research activity in Antarctica is located on Ross Island, which is in the Ross Sea. While the Ross Sea is remote, there is still significant fishing and whaling pressure that is affecting the marine ecosystem. My understanding is that these activities violate the Antarctic Treaty, or at least the spirit of the treaty. However, the fishing boats are often from countries that have not signed onto the treaty, or the fisherman may be rogue actors in a remote area that is just really hard to police.

What are the consequences of the Ross Sea being designated a marine sanctuary? Now some of the countries where Antarctic fisherman have been coming from have endorsed the marine sanctuary, maybe their governments are recognizing the value of conservation of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Further, these countries (e.g., China) are investing more in Antarctic research at the national level, which seems to indicate that their governments are indeed buying into the value of Antarctic science. I sure hope this is the case! It is always great to see our science colleagues from other countries getting more support from their national programs.

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