In Brief

Proposed Antarctic Ocean Reserve Downsized

The Ross Sea, near the Antarctic coastline. (Image 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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Andrea Thompson
Live Science Contributor

Andrea Thompson is an associate editor at Scientific American, where she covers sustainability, energy and the environment. Prior to that, she was a senior writer covering climate science at Climate Central and a reporter and editor at Live Science, where she primarily covered Earth science and the environment. She holds a graduate degree in science health and environmental reporting from New York University, as well as a bachelor of science and and masters of science in atmospheric chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.