The world’s largest marine protected area goes into force in the Ross Sea

The Department of State welcomes the entry into force of the Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area (MPA) – the world’s largest – covering 1.55 million square kilometers (about twice the size of the State of Texas or about 7% of the Southern Ocean), of which 1.12 million square kilometers is fully protected.

The Ross Sea MPA was a joint initiative of the United States and New Zealand, and the result of unanimous support for the proposal within the 25-member Commission for the Conservation of Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).  The proposal was adopted by CCAMLR in October 2016 after New Zealand and the United States first put forward their joint proposal in 2012. The Agreement entered into force on 1 December 2017.

The Ross Sea in Antarctica is an area of unique biodiversity and one of the last unspoiled marine environments on the planet.  At different times of the year, the region can be home to 32% of the world’s Adélie penguins, 26% of all emperor penguins, five seal species, eleven bird species, twelve whale species and 95+ fish species, 50% of Ross Sea killer whales and around 30% of Antarctic petrels.

On a smaller scale, the region is also home to more than six species of krill, 230+ species of sponge (including some that live for up to 500 years), about 30 species of seaweed and more than 2,000 invertebrate species – as well as colossal squid measuring 14m in length!

The Ross Sea Region MPA will be in force for 35 years, protecting a rich and productive ecosystem that has thriving, intact communities of top predators, including whales, seals, penguins, and sea birds.

In addition to its conservation value, the MPA is also designed to be a natural laboratory and reference area for scientific study – creating long-term opportunities for protecting marine life and for promoting marine scientific research.

********************************

Department of State Media Release
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 1, 2017

The Department of State welcomes today’s entry into force of the Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area, the world’s largest marine protected area (MPA). The Ross Sea in Antarctica is an area of unique biodiversity and one of the last unspoiled marine environments on the planet. This MPA will create special long-term opportunities for protecting marine life and for promoting marine scientific research.

The Ross Sea MPA was a joint initiative of the United States and New Zealand, and was adopted by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in October of 2016. It is 1.55 million square kilometers in size, about twice the size of the State of Texas.