29 February 2012
Source: The New Zealand Herald, Author - Isaac Davison
A powerful coalition of conservation groups backed by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is calling for an Antarctic fishing ban within an area half the size of Australia.
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance proposes a 3.6 million sq km marine reserve in the Ross Sea to protect the biodiversity hotspot, which is home to huge proportions of the world's emperor penguins, orcas, and the Antarctic toothfish, keenly sought after by wealthy American diners.
The region, 3000km south of New Zealand, is described as "The Last Ocean" because of its relatively untouched state and "the lungs of the planet" because of its huge absorption of CO2.
The Alliance's New Zealand spokesman, Geoff Keey, said that on the surface Antarctica was frozen and sparsely populated. But its underwater world teemed with crucial marine life which thrived on the abundance of microscopic plants and animals.
He said its ecosystem was rare because it still had good numbers of top-end predators such as seals, orcas, and the slow-moving toothfish....
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