A coalition of environmental groups are arguing that a vast secion of the waters off Antarctica must be protected from fishing and other industries. The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) says more than 40% of the region must be given protection before one of the world's last true frontiers is damaged beyond repair by human activity.
The group’s members include Greenpeace and WWF. It says it has identified 19 “key Antarctic marine habitats”. The coalition argues these habitats must be protected as part of the largest network of marine protected areas ever created.
The Guardian reports that the group is urging the UK government to throw its weight behind the proposals. Steve Campbell is the AOA’s co-ordinator. He says the UK would be an ideal champion because it has already taken a lead in creating protected areas in the Southern Ocean, such as the Southern Orkney Islands Southern Shelf marine protected area.According to the alliance, the rising demands of the fishing industry are putting enormous pressure on marine ecosystems in the Antarctic. These demands are threatening the health of animal populations such as penguins, whales, seals, fish and krill.