N.Z. government canvases views on Ross Sea future

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Public input is being sought on the long-term management of Antarctica’s Ross Sea, directly south of New Zealand.

“The Ross Sea is an almost pristine natural environment which has attracted increased attention for its resources. This is why the (New Zealand) Government is considering options for long-term management of the area to pursue within the Antarctic Treaty System,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Antarctic Policy Unit Head Trevor Hughes said.

New Zealand is one of 24 member countries of CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources), the international body responsible for regulating the harvesting of fish, including the valuable toothfish species, from Antarctic waters.

CCAMLR is part of the Antarctic Treaty System. New Zealand operates surveillance flights every summer to monitor Ross Sea toothfishing for compliance with the CCAMLR’s regulations known as Conservation Measures.

In addition the Antarctic Treaty’s Environmental Protocol allows for sensitive marine areas to be designated as either specially protected or specially managed. The former means fish and other resources can’t normally be removed, and the latter allows for some removal under a management plan.

A future Ross Sea management framework might include marine protection and sustainably managed harvesting. New Zealand management regime proposals would have to be agreed by other CCAMLR members.

People interested in making a submission can find the discussion document on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website (www.mfat.govt.nz). The website also includes a response form which can be completed and returned to the Ministry on-line or by post.

The submission period closes on 20 May. Submissions will be reviewed and a summary document prepared for consideration by Ministers. This document will be made public.

Source: Press Release: NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade