“You Mess With It At Your Peril” –World’s Biggest Wildlife Reserve Planned for Antarctica in Global Campaign” (Today’s “Planet Earth Report”)

 
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“The Antarctic is a massively important area and you mess with it at your peril,” said Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at the University of York, who says the sanctuary would also play a key role in tackling climate change – soaking up huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “The Antarctic is very important in locking away carbon in deep-sea sediments. There is also a very rapid rate of sinking there – it has some of the coldest waters in the world … and this sinking is one of the great pumps of the global ocean system.”


A vast 1.8m sq km fishing-free zone would protect species, such as penguins, leopard seals and whales, and help mitigate the effects of climate change, reports today's Guardian. A global campaign is being launched to turn a huge tract of the seas around the Antarctic into the world’s biggest sanctuary, protecting wildlife and helping the fight against climate change.

 

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The huge 1.8m sq km reserve – five times the size of Germany – would ban all fishing in a vast area of the Weddell Sea and around the Antarctic Peninsula, safeguarding species including penguins, killer whales, leopard seals and blue whales.

The idea was originally put forward by the EU and is being backed by a new Greenpeace campaign to be launched on Monday. The proposal already has the support of several countries – including the UK – and will go before a conference of the Antarctic nations in October.

He said a decision in 2016 to create a smaller sanctuary around the Ross Sea in the Antarctic proved global cooperation to protect the oceans is possible.

“The next few years are absolutely essential for the future of our oceans and we are in desperate need for governments to come together and do what is best for these amazing ecosystems,” said  Will McCallum, of Greenpeace’s new Protect the Antarctic campaign.

“Now we want to go one better and create the world’s largest protected area," said McCallum. "We want to create that momentum that says this is not just possible, it is inevitable if we are to protect the wildlife that call the ocean home and crucially help mitigate the worst effects of climate change.”

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Image credit: With thanks to National Geographic Creative Services

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