16 Jul 2013:
Russia Blocks Plans to Create
Massive Marine Reserve in Antarctica
Russian officials have blocked plans to establish the world’s largest marine reserve
in the waters off Antarctica, citing concerns that it would restrict their fishing interests in the region, according to news
reports. The plan, which was proposed by the U.S. and New Zealand, would have protected a total of 2.3 million square miles in the Ross Sea, a deep, high-latitude body of water in the Southern Ocean. But during a meeting of the 25-member Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), Russia questioned whether the organization had the legal right to create such a marine haven. A key sticking point for the Russians was the potential loss of the fishery for krill, a shrimp-like creature that is a critical food source for penguins, seabirds, seals, and whales, but is netted for use in Omega-3 dietary supplements. “That we missed a critical opportunity to protect some of the most pristine ocean areas on Earth is a loss for the ecosystem and the international community,” said Andrea Kavanagh
, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Southern Ocean sanctuaries project. The proposed marine haven, which would have more than doubled the total area of marine reserves on the planet, was also defeated during international talks in 2012.