“An issue of justice between generations and between ourselves and the animal kingdom.”
This was law graduate and endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh’s reaction to Antarctica’s Ross Sea being declared a marine protected area (MPA). This is the first time that a large scale marine protected area has been established in the High Seas
Covering an area as big as South African and Zimbabwe combined, this newly declared MPA is, according to Pugh, “the biggest in history on land or in the sea”. The Ross Sea’s new status means that no industrial fishing can take place there for the next 35 years.
In February last year Pugh, the UN’s Patron of the Oceans, undertook a series of swims in the sub-zero waters of the Ross Sea to boost the campaign to protect the sea. He also shuttled between nations to help find consensus around this issue. The greatest opposition came from Russia, who blocked the proposal to establish an MPA in the Ross Sea five times.
The Ross Sea MPA was called into life at a recent meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Delegates from 24 countries and the European Union voted unanimously to create the Ross Sea MPA.
Pugh thanked his alma mater for “moulding me into an ocean advocate” and expressed the hope for many more protected areas in the near future.