Ross Sea protection at risk: lobby group
Fri, 07 Sep 2012 5:42a.m.
Plans for a massive marine reserve in the Antarctica's Ross Sea could be in jeopardy after New Zealand pulled out of a joint proposal with the United States, an Antarctic lobby group says.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced that the Government's proposal for a Marine Protected Area (MPA) nine times the size of New Zealand will be submitted to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) on Friday.
The CCAMLR is part of the Antarctic Treaty System and manages marine resources in the area.
But the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA), which is backed by environmental and animal welfare groups, says separate competing proposals from New Zealand and the US risk undermining the chance of reaching a consensus over Ross Sea protection.
"Although the draft US-New Zealand proposal would have fallen short of what is necessary to protect the world's least impacted marine ecosystem, it would have included important conservation gains and improved on New Zealand's original proposal," AOA New Zealand co-ordinator Geoff Keey said.
New Zealand's MPA proposal is "weak" in the face of US opposition, Mr Keey said.
Mr McCully said the proposed MPA would protect ecologically important features and habitats, including winter ice-free areas, the entire coast from McMurdo Sound to Cape Adare and almost the entire Ross Sea continental shelf.
To achieve a protected area, every CCAMLR member country must agree.
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