Ross Sea needs to be policed
20 September 2012
Antarctic Treaty countries need to stop illegal and unregulated fishing in the Ross Sea says University of Canterbury's Professor Bryan Storey.
He was reacting to comments by Philippa Ross, a descendent of the man who discovered the Ross Sea. She said the New Zealand Government was destroying her legacy by failing to protect one of the last intact marine ecosystems in the world.
British naval officer and polar explorer Sir James Clarke Ross discovered the sea in 1841. But Ross's great-great-great-granddaughter Philippa Ross said today the Ross Sea environment was being threatened by government policies.
Earlier this month the Government rejected a proposal from the United States for a marine reserve that would have offered greater protection than New Zealand wanted for the Antarctic toothfish in the Ross Sea.
New Zealand companies take a large proportion of the annual Ross Sea toothfish catch - last year they landed 730 tonnes with an export value of $20 million.
"This is a very complicated issue," said Professor Storey, Director of UC’s Gateway Antarctica.
"It is true that we do not know enough about the life cycle of the toothfish to know if the fishery is sustainable or not. We need more data and more research to establish if the fishery is sustainable.
"In the meantime, many people would say, let’s stop fishing and get on with the research but in reality this never seems to happen. The biggest problem with making the Ross Sea a marine protected area is to control illegal and unregulated fishing.
"Before setting up a marine protected area, we need to have a viable protection/policing system in place first to stop illegal and unregulated fishing. I am not aware that this system is in place yet," Professor Storey said.
Professor Storey will be talking more about the Antarctic at Icefest in Christchurch this weekend.
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