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A massive new marine reserve was created around Antarctica on Friday that will protect some 600,000 square miles of ocean in one of the world’s last vestiges of unspoiled wilderness. ice sea copyThe new park, stretching throughout the Ross Sea, becomes the world’s largest protected marine area.  A bloc of 24 nations and the European Union, tasked with Antarctic conservation, announced the decision in Hobart, Australia, following two weeks of negotiations. The reserve will be protected for 35 years. New statutes will ban fishing in 425,000 square miles of the Ross Sea, according to Reuters, and the remaining territory will be used as a research area with only a small amount of fishing allowed for scientific purposes. Commercial fishing will still be allowed in the Ross Sea outside of the reserve’s boundaries, further from critical breeding and feeding areas, The New York Times reports.  The region, which will come under protection on Dec. 1, 2017, is home to more than 10,000 unique species, including penguins, whales, seals, krill and colossal squid.  The decision culminates five years of failed negotiations by the 25 members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. It represents the first time a marine park has been created in international waters, according toThe Guardian.

From Huff Post  Photo Credit John Vlahakis

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