New Zealand re-examines ambitious Antarctic plans

Sep 05, 2013
This NASA Aqua satellite image shows a view of the Western Ross Sea and Ice Shelf in Antarctica, on October 16, 2012. New Zealand said on Thursday it may revise its plans to create the world's largest ocean sanctuary off Antarctica after they were blocked by Russia earlier this year, amid concerns the proposal may be scaled-back.

New Zealand said on Thursday it may revise its plans to create the world's largest ocean sanctuary off Antarctica after they were blocked by Russia earlier this year, amid concerns the proposal may be scaled-back.

The plan for a 1.6 million square kilometre (640,000 square mile) fishing-free haven in the Ross Sea, supported by the US, was knocked back after Moscow raised objections at an international meeting in July.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said revising the plan was probably the only way to get it approved at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the multi-national organisation which oversees in the Southern Ocean.

"If we are going to get change we're probably going to have to make some alterations, but it's a work in progress," Key told reporters at the Pacific Islands Forum in the Marshall Islands.

"We always knew there was going to be resistance from other parties who either have fishing interests there or believe that they would have fishing interests."

Key said the amended proposal was yet to be finalised. However Fairfax Media, citing "diplomatic insiders", said there were fears the protected area could be slashed by up to 40 percent and allow fishing in an area where endangered species breed.

The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA), a coalition of environmental groups, urged New Zealand and the United States to "hold the line" and resist pressure to scale-back the proposal.

"(We) would be deeply concerned that the US and New Zealand could be giving away too much, leaving us with a protected area that reduces protection for the Ross Sea," AOA spokesman Steve Campbell said.

"That would mean missing the opportunity to protect some of the most critical and unique while they are still intact."

He said the Ross Sea, a deep bay on Antarctica's Pacific side, was one of the most pristine on the planet.

Another proposal to protect a 1.9 million square kilometre sanctuary in seas off east Antarctica—backed by Australia, France and the EU—also failed at the July CCAMLR meeting in Germany.

New Zealand will reportedly release its revised Ross Sea plan on Friday, ahead of the next CCAMLR meeting in Hobart, Australia, from October 23.

Explore further: NASA maps beach tar from California oil pipeline spill

Related Stories

US backs Antarctic reserve amid calls for fishing ban

Mar 19, 2013

Hailing the waters of Anarctica as a living laboratory, the United States has joined Australia and New Zealand in appealing for the creation of marine sanctuaries in the most remote and pristine part of the ...

Recommended for you

As nations dither, cities pick up climate slack

49 minutes ago

Their national governments hamstrung by domestic politics, stretched budgets and diplomatic inertia, many cities and provinces have taken a leading role—driven by necessity—in efforts to arrest galloping ...

Should we all escape to the country during a heatwave?

5 hours ago

A University of Birmingham research project has highlighted the potential health impacts of heatwaves in urbanised areas. By modelling the 2003 heatwave the researchers were able to identify areas where city centres were ...

NASA maps beach tar from California oil pipeline spill

6 hours ago

When an on-land pipeline ruptured north of Santa Barbara, California, on May 19—spilling 105,000 barrels of crude oil onto Refugio State Beach and about 21,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean in the ...

Not all plastics equal

7 hours ago

Ever buy a fish at a pet store that died within days of being put in an aquarium at home?

Carbon capture and storage safety investigated

7 hours ago

A significant step has been made for potential Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) deployment, with the publication of the results from the world's first experiment into the realistic simulation of potential ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.