On the New Marine Protected Area in Antarctica's Ross Sea

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 27, 2016

In further proof that the world is finally beginning to understand the urgency of the threats facing our planet, today in Hobart, Australia, 25 governments including the United States approved the creation of the world’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. The Ross Sea Region MPA will safeguard one of the last unspoiled ocean wilderness areas on the planet – home to unparalleled marine biodiversity and thriving communities of penguins, seals, whales, seabirds, and fish.

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – which operates by the unanimous consent of its 25 members and which I have been proud to support for decades – made extraordinary progress with today’s announcement, and that progress didn’t happen by accident. It happened thanks to many years of persistent scientific and policy review, intense negotiations, and principled diplomacy. It happened because our nations understood the responsibility we share to protect this unique place for future generations.

The new MPA adds 1.55 million square kilometers (598,000 square miles) in new ocean protection – an area nearly twice the size of the state of Texas. This designation -- on top of the nearly 4 million square kilometers of newly protected ocean announced around the global Our Ocean conference the State Department hosted in September -- makes 2016 a landmark year for ocean stewardship.

In addition to its tremendous conservation value, the Ross Sea MPA is designed to be a natural laboratory for valuable scientific research to increase our understanding of the impact of climate change and fishing on the ocean and its resources. A key focus of the new MPA will be improving collaborative marine research by CCAMLR members, which will benefit people all over the world. The creation of the Ross Sea MPA is an extraordinary step forward for marine protection, and the United States is grateful for the cooperation with our New Zealand co-sponsors of the proposal, and of all CCAMLR members, including Russia, to make this achievement possible.