Proposed Antarctic Ocean Reserve Downsized
The Ross Sea, near the Antarctic coastline.
Credit: NASA

A proposal to create a marine protected area in Antarctica's Ross Sea that would cover some 875,000 square miles (2.3 million square kilometers) has been revised to reduce the reserve's size by about 40 percent. The revisions came after China, Norway, Russia and other countries that are members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources questioned the legality of creating the reserve and balked at blocking off so much of the productive region to commercial fishing.

The original proposal was made by the United States and New Zealand, and environmentalists have accused the two countries of caving to pressures from other nations, the New York Times reported. A coalition of environmental groups called the Antarctic Ocean Alliance called the new proposal a “tactical mistake and a significant retreat for Southern Ocean protection,” the paper reported.

The proposal, along with a separate one to create a network of seven reserves in the eastern Antarctic, will be discussed at a meeting of the commission in Hobart, Australia, next month.

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