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World’s largest marine park created in Ross Sea in Antarctica

The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Hobart agreed to establish the first Antarctic and largest Marine Park in the world encompassing 1.55 million km2 (600,000 sq mi) in the Ross Sea. The treaty was signed on 28th October, 2016 in Hobart, Australia.

Treaty pointers

  • Under the deal brokered between 24 countries and the EU an area about the size of France and Spain combined – will be set aside as a no-take “general protection zone”.
  • It is the first marine park created in international waters and will set a precedent for further moves to help the world achieve the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s recommendation that 30% of the world’s oceans be protected.
  • The agreement establishes a large 322,000 sq km “krill research zone” that will allow for research catching of krill, but prohibit toothfish catching.
  • Additionally, a 110,000 sq km “special research zone” will be established on the outside of the no-take zone, allowing catching of krill and toothfish only for research purposes.
  • The treaty will expire in 35 years, i.e. treaty is applicable only for 35 years.

Significance of Antarctica

  • It is the largest reservoir of fresh water
  • It acts as great balance of sea level
  • It promotes natural carbon sinks
  • It is consider being the last intact marine ecosystem on Earth – a living laboratory ideally suited for investigating life in the Antarctic and how climate change is affecting the planet.
  • It is estimated that the Southern Ocean produces about three-quarters of the nutrients that sustain life in the rest of the world’s oceans.
  • Along with Arctic Ocean, it acts as great moderator of the climate on Earth.
  • The region is also home to most of the world’s penguins, whales and many of the near flightless birds.
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