icon_arrow_down icon_arrow_left icon_arrow_left_large icon_arrow_right icon_arrow_right_large icon_arrow_up icon_bullet_arrow icon_call icon_close icon_facebook icon_googleplus icon_grid_off icon_instagram icon_login icon_mail icon_menu icon_message icon_minus icon_pinterest icon_plus icon_quote_end icon_quote_start icon_refresh icon_search icon_tick_on icon_twitter icon_video_play icon_youtube

Sign up to our mailing list for the latest Boat International & Events news.


Missing your newsletter?

If you’ve unsubscribed by mistake and would like to continue to hear about the latest Boat International & Events news, update your preferences now and let us know which emails you’d like to receive.

No, thanks
The winners of the Ocean Awards 2018

The winners of the Ocean Awards 2018

8 of 8 8/8

Campaign of the Year: Establishing the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area

The Ross Sea is the southernmost part of the Southern Ocean. It extends into a huge bay under the Ross Ice Shelf, part of the polar ice cap that is Antarctica. It remains one of the last, perhaps the last, genuinely pristine place on Earth, home to a fully functioning marine ecosystem that is still miraculously free from pollution, untainted by mining and untroubled by invasive species. Wildlife thrives here, but in 1996 a New Zealand fishing vessel discovered abundant Antarctic toothfish that, as Chilean sea bass, commanded about $70 a kilo. By 2010, as many as 20 long-line ships were catching about 3,000 tonnes a year, threatening an entire ecosystem; their dwindling numbers affecting killer whales, Weddell seals, sperm whales and giant squid, who all prey on them. The only way the unique Ross Sea ecosystem can survive intact was for it to be declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA), the world’s largest, in which commercial fishing is banned.

In December 2017, the 25 countries that comprise the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), an international convention founded in 1982 to protect the southern polar seas, agreed that 72 per cent of the MPA, which covers 1.55 million square kilometres, should be declared a no-take zone, in which all fishing is prohibited for the next 35 years. It is, says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of the Ocean Awards 2018 judges, “a phenomenal achievement… it shows that the protection of great swathes of our oceans is a possibility”.

Many individuals and organisations were involved in this achievement, but the judges singled out the below individuals for their outstanding contributions.

Scientist, George Watters

Chair, CCAMLR Working Group on Ecosystem Monitoring and Management

As the lead US scientist who worked on the campaign to have the Ross Sea designated an MPA, the fisheries biologist Dr George Watters spent six years on the project, travelling the world to persuade all 25 member countries of CCAMLR to come on board with the plan. China and Russia were the last to be convinced: the former wanted a special zone for krill fishing; the latter higher quotas and a larger commercial fishing zone within the protected area.

Watters’ solution was to expand the size of the MPA in order to accommodate this. “Making it bigger could achieve their objective and ours.” His day job is director of the Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, whose mission is “to generate the scientific information necessary for the conservation and management of living marine resources”.

Peter Young, John Weller and David Ainley

The Last Ocean filmmakers

Vital to the success of the Ross Sea MPA campaign was the team who made the film The Last Ocean (2012), winner of numerous documentary awards. Its tagline summed up its objective: “The race to protect the Earth’s last untouched ocean from our insatiable appetite for fish.”

Shot in Antarctica, Australia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, the UK and the US, the 88-minute documentary was a collaboration between the New Zealand filmmaker Peter Young and the Californian ecologist Dr David Ainley, who had spent three decades studying Antarctica.

With the American conservation photographer John Weller, they also set up a charitable trust of the same name, through which they were able to spend significant time speaking to policymakers as well as the public to raise awareness of the dangers facing the Ross Sea. As Ainley puts it on the voiceover: “You can’t be a doctor of the oceans without knowing what a healthy patient looks like.”

Lewis Pugh

Founder, the Lewis Pugh Foundation

A maritime lawyer by profession, as well as the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador, ocean advocate and endurance swimmer, Lewis Pugh is best known for his superhuman ability to survive immersion in near-freezing water. He uses this talent to publicise the plight of the polar oceans through “Speedo diplomacy”, which he defines as “a fair bit of swimming, and a great deal of listening”. The 48-year-old has completed two swims in the Ross Sea. The first, in February 2015, was off Cape Adare, where he covered 540 metres in 10 minutes in water with a temperature of -1.7C. The air was -4C. Six days later, he swam 330 metres in the Bay of Whales. The water was -1C; the air was -11C, and in the wind it felt like -37C.

Delighted by the subsequent designation of the Ross Sea as an MPA, he’s not stopping there. “Our Antarctica 2020 campaign is about expanding that protection with three more MPAs, so that the entire protected area is bigger than the continent of Australia,” he says.

Read More
Sponsored Listings
Upgrade your account
Your account at BOAT International doesn't include a BOAT Pro subscription. Please subscribe to BOAT Pro in order to unlock this content.
Subscribe More about BOAT Pro