Parting plea to Key as he heads to ice
John Key (NZN)
As Prime Minister John Key flies over the Ross Sea, environmentalists hope the experience will help him reinforce efforts to secure a marine reserve over the pristine region.
Mr Key leaves Christchurch tonight for a four-day visit to Antarctica. His flight has been delayed due to a severe weather in Christchurch and is scheduled to leave at 8:30PM.
The Prime Minister has received a parting message from the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA).
It released a statement saying he should make it a "personal mission" for the Ross Sea to have a comprehensive marine reserve.
New Zealand and the United States have proposed the world's largest marine protected area of 2.27 million square kilometres for consideration by the 25-member Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) at a meeting in Germany in July.
"New Zealand should be leading marine protection in our region and the Ross Sea is one of the most important places where they can do that," AOA NZ co-ordinator Geoff Keey said.
"With a decision likely to be taken this year, New Zealand needs to redouble its efforts to ensure problems raised by resistant countries such as Russia and China are recognised and resolved."
The joint NZ/US proposal includes creating a "special research zone" where "light" fishing and tagging would be allowed, but it has been opposed so far by some fishing nations.
The AOA - which includes Greenpeace, WWF, Last Ocean, Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ and NZ Forest & Bird - has called for 3.6 million square kilometres of the Ross Sea to be protected from fishing and development.
NZN / 3 News