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Ross descendant wants sea protected

Monday 29 Oct 2012 11:08 a.m.

Ice in the Ross Sea (file pic)

Ice in the Ross Sea (file pic)

A descendant of the man who discovered the Ross Sea wants fishing in the area banned to help protect marine life.

Philippa Ross, the great, great, great granddaughter of British explorer Sir James Clark Ross will tell delegates at an international environmental meeting on Monday that a New Zealand proposal to allow fishing in the area should not be supported.

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources is into its second week of a meeting in Hobart looking at protecting the Southern Ocean and is considering what level of protection should be given to the Ross Sea which was found in 1841.

Ms Ross says the area, as the last intact marine ecosystem in the world, should be fully protected.

She says the commission has a chance to create an enduring legacy and called on the delegates from 24 countries and the European Union to act in the interests of the environment

"Invest in the future and choose a marine protected area for the Ross Sea and circumpolar protection for the surrounding ocean of the Antarctic," she said.

The US and New Zealand have presented competing plans for the Ross Sea after originally working on a common proposal.

The New Zealand plan is for a larger area but the US proposal is favoured by environmental groups because it puts more restrictions on fishing.

New Zealand is anxious to protect its toothfish industry, while the US proposal would set up a no-fishing reference area for scientific research.

Ms Ross, who lives in Northland, says nobody knows the life cycle of the toothfish so it has yet to be determined if fishing for the species is sustainable.

The Antarctic Oceans Alliance, a group representing 30 environmental organisations, says its research has found that more than 40 per cent of the Southern Ocean needs protection.

NZN

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