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Will Antarctica Soon Become the Largest Marine Protected Area on Earth?

This month, CCAMLR, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, will meet in Bremerhaven, Germany to again debate whether or not to establish a large marine protected area in one of Mission Blue’s Hope Spots, the Ross Sea. The 25 participating nations will ultimately decide the fate of what has been called the most pristine ocean wilderness on earth. And it’s by no means a done-deal.

It’s critical that our voices continue to be heard loud and clear – all the way to Bremerhaven. One of the things you can do is to sign the petition from the Antarctic Ocean Alliance on this page, and also ask to receive their newsletter for updates so that you can continue to support each stage of the campaign.

New Zealand filmmaker, Peter Young is bringing attention to the campaign by touring the US with his documentary, The Last Ocean, which explores the race to save the Ross Sea. As pressure mounts on nations to protect the Ross Sea from commercial fishing, Young is positioning his film center stage for maximum impact.

The Last Ocean has been selling out in theaters. It is being promoted in 24 countries in seven languages and has been released online in a video-on-demand format, available here and also on iTunes. 

What surprises Young is that the crisis in the Ross Sea is such a revelation to viewers. He’s heartened that Whole Foods, and now Safeway have chosen not to sell Chilean sea bass from the Ross Sea. “It’s a major step. They are two of the biggest supermarket brands in the US.”

At a screening of the film in March, US Secretary of State John Kerry signaled support for a New Zealand-US proposal for the Ross Sea.

The proposal involves a 876,450 square mile protected area involving a tag-and-release program on the continental shelf of the Ross Sea, where the highest concentration of ‘Chilean Sea Bass’ is found.

“If it goes through, it will be a good first step, but there’s still a really long way to go to what should be really happening in the Ross Sea,” Young said.

The success of the talks in Germany may rest heavily on fishing nations Russia, China and Ukraine, whose votes prevented a consensus among the CCAMLR Nations last year.

Feature Photo: Antarctic toothfish are an important food item for Weddell seals © Jessica Meir.

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