Landmark marine park created – but only for 35 years

marine park conservationThe EU and 24 other countries have signed an agreement to create a protected marine park in 11.1m sq km of the Ross Sea near Antarctica.

This will provide a fishing-free haven for many fish species under pressure from demand for seafood, and will ensure that fewer young fish are caught.

Sadly, the historic agreement – signed at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – is not without its compromises. The haven will only be in place for 35 years, in an effort to bring on board reluctant Chinese and Russian authorities, and there will be certain concessions to vessels catching krill and toothfish for “scientific purposes” in the area immediately outside the newly created no-fishing zone.

The World Conservation Union’s definition of a marine protected area includes the concept of permanence.

“WWF has concerns that the Ross Sea agreement does not meet this standard,” says Johnson of WWF-Australia (the country in which the deal was hammered out).

We need to make sure that the world is a very different place in 35 years’ time. Sustainable marine agriculture is where our best hopes lie.

Read more on the marine park story on the Guardian and PBS websites.

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