Designating a marine protected area would prevent the region from being unsustainably exploited for its fish. Officials from the European and Oceanic nations are expected to spearhead the effort, Agence France-Presse reports, which would protect an area of more than 1 million square kilometers.
Adelie penguins, Emperor penguins, Leopard seals, Antarctic toothfish, Killer whales, and shrimp krill form a major part of the Antarctic maritime ecosystem.
One area in particular, the D’Urvill Sea-Mertz region would be off-limits to any fishing under the proposed agenda item. Human fishing has dwindled the food supplies for Adelie penguins at a French Antarctic research station, forcing adults to swim further for food. Many Adelie penguin chicks have died as a result.
“The death of so many Adelie penguin chicks shows just how tough life can be in Antarctica,” says World Wildlife Foundation Antarctica program manager Chris Johnson. “The last thing these penguins need is more pressure,” he said, adding, “That’s why it’s crucial CCAMLR locks in an MPA in East Antarctica to help secure a future for Adelie penguins and all the other amazing wildlife and marine biodiversity.”
The CCAMLR will meet until October 27 in Hobart, the capital of the Australian island of Tasmania. All 24 member nations and the EU must unanimously sign off on any proposal for it.