23 Dec 2012

Ross Sea protection zone to cover 2.2m sq km

5:10 pm on 23 December 2012

Details of a protected marine area in Antarctica that would cover 2.2 million square km of the Ross Sea, have been made public.

The joint proposal by the United States and New Zealand was debated earlier this year by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

It was rejected by other member countries, but will be debated again in Germany in July.

The area covers 2.2 million square km, but research fishing would be allowed in 1.6 million square km. Within that zone, 500 tonnes of toothfish could be removed each season.

The Last Ocean Trust says the plan is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough.

Trust co-founder Peter Young says he'd like to see the whole area protected.

"Because it is the last untouched ocean that we have on earth and that has more value than creating a very marginal fishery, that's marginal economically, that's marginal environmentally and it's actually a dangerous place to fish, there's far more value in keeping the Ross Sea pristine."

Mr Young says the proposal is a great start, but more needs to be done.