The largest marine protected area in the world and substantially covered in ice throughout much of the year, the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area was the focus of talks in Rome earlier this year.
Hosted by CCAMLR (Council for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources), the workshop objective was to discuss plans for research and monitoring of the newly-established marine protected area.
The Ross Sea is home to the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni), which is currently commercially exploited. There are concerns fishing has impacted the health and stability of large areas both within and outside the marine protected area, and there is substantial seasonal movement and uncertainty about the toothfish lifecycle and its role in food webs.
Mt Erebus from the Ross Sea. Photo: Brooke Peterson | Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Discussions were held on the means by which ecosystem structure and function can be preserved in the face of this fishing pressure.
Various proposals by different nations were provided, but two – one jointly introduced by Italy and New Zealand, and one introduced by ASOC (Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition) - were discussed in detail, and the delegates spent a good deal of time merging the two and preserving the strengths of both. Further work will produce a final conveners report for CCAMLR, which will be circulated for comment.
SOOS was highlighted during the talks as a model of transparent data management and availability, and CCAMLR was encouraged to work with SOOS and the model it promotes to maximise the open availability of data relevant to the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area.
The SOOS Ross Sea regional working group was encouraged to collaborate with CCAMLR to maximise opportunities for both organisations. The first SOOS Ross Sea working groupwill examine which MPA objectives SOOS observations will have relevance.
The meeting was held April 26-28 and chaired by Dr George Watters, Mr Alistar Dunn, and Dr Marino Vacchi. Representatives from Argentina, Chile, China, European Union, Germany, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States attended. SOOS interests were represented by Drs. Mike Williams and Walker Smith.