The Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area (RSr MPA) was originally proposed in 2012, and agreed by CCAMLR in 2016 under CM 91-05, with the MPA coming into force on 1 December 2017. The RSrMPA is the world’s largest MPA covering 2.09 million square kilometres. The MPA is divided into three zones, the General Protection Zone (GPZ), the Special Research Zone (SRZ) and the Krill Research Zone (KRZ), each of which allows certain activities and restricts others. Fishing activities are prohibited within much of the MPA with a few exceptions, all of which must be conducted in accordance with other Conservation Measures set down by CCAMLR.
The MPA aims to protect large-scale ecosystem processes, conserve biodiversity, protect predators and prey (including penguins, seals, whales, krill and Antarctic silverfish), protect areas of ecological importance, protect areas that are important to the life cycle of Antarctic toothfish, and promote research and other scientific activities (such as monitoring) on the marine living resources in the region. The RSrMPA remains in force until the end of its review period in 2052, at which time it may be renewed or modified as needed.
The specific objectives for the research and monitoring plan associated with the RSrMPA fall into three main categories:
(i) representativeness - research and monitoring to assess whether the RSrMPA is protecting an adequate proportion of all benthic and pelagic environments in the Ross Sea region
(ii) threat mitigation - research and monitoring to assess the extent to which threats to the achievement of Article II.3 and the specific objectives of the RSrMPA are being effectively avoided or mitigated by the MPA, in locations where the risk of ecosystem impacts from harvesting activities may otherwise be high
(iii) scientific reference areas - research and monitoring where the RSrMPA provides opportunities to examine Antarctic marine ecosystems where no, or limited, fishing has taken, or is taking, place, to understand, for example, the effects of fishing, environmental variability and climate change on Antarctic marine living resources.
Baseline data layers used for spatial planning, monitoring and research in relation to the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area - Refer to WS-SM-18/01