News broke yesterday that the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) declared its first Marine Protected Area below the Southe Orkney Islands in the Southern Ocean. With the CCAMLR meeting still fresh on the minds of ASOC campaigners this is an encouraging victory for them and the Antarctic community. It is also a huge step forward in working to conserve the delicate marine ecosystems around Antarctica. This and (hopefully) future MPAs will encourage further scientific investigation of differences between fished and protected areas of the Southern Ocean.
What makes this area especially important is that its unique natural features make it a key habitat for krill, which are both one of the main draws for fishing vessels to the Antarctic and an essential food source for so many of the Antarctic's marine species.