The oceans around Antarctica are some of the most precious in the world. They're one of the last places on Earth still relatively untouched by human activity.As 25 nations debate preserving the Antarctic ocean , or allowing fishing that is uncontrolled to destroy the ecosystem there the facts below are from the Antarctic Ocean Alliance .New Zealand, in this debate , is not on the side of preserving the Antarctic. Embarrassingly it is opposed to the full scale preservation plan in order to allow its current lucrative toothfish catch to go ahead. Think shark fin soup .These will soon have that stigma in enlightened nations, but not before New Zealand has potentially contributed to the decimation of the ecosystem.
1 This beautiful, icy ocean environment is home to almost 10,000 species, many of which can be found nowhere else on the planet.
2 Adelié and emperor penguins, Antarctic petrels and minke whales, Ross Sea killer whales, colossal squid and Weddell seals all thrive in this inhospitable climate.
3 While many other marine ecosystems in other parts of the world have been devastated by development, pollution, mining, oil drilling and overfishing, Antarctica's Ross Sea remains the most intact marine ecosystem on the planet.
4 About 70% of our earth's surface is ocean, yet less than 1% of it is fully protected from human development.
5 85% of the world's fisheries are classified as over exploited, fully exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion, so commercial fishing vessels are moving to remote waters such as Antarctica's in search of fish (according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation).
6 Antarctica's species are now under increasing pressure from commercialfishing for the slow-growing and long-lived Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish, (also known in parts of the world as the Chilean sea bass). These toothfish have become an expensive delicacy, sold in high-end restaurants as well as speciality seafood markets, primarily in the United States, Japan and Europe."
7 "Fishing by illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) vessels, often using "flags of convenience" is on the rise. In some parts of the Southern Ocean, unsustainable fishing methods such as deep sea gillnets are in use in some areas. These gillnets can reach more than 100 kilometres in length and are a threat to almost all marine life, including marine mammals and non-targeted fish species such as rays.
8 Then there's krill - an essential part of the food chain that supports the region's whales, penguins, seals, fish and birdlife. Growing demand for krill as a health supplement and as food for fish farms has put it at risk. Climate change has already been linked to a significant decline in krill numbers - up to 80% in one region around the Scotia Sea (Atkinson et al 2004).
9 Poor management and the large-scale removal of toothfish and species like krill would threaten the very balance of Antarctica's unique and fragile ocean ecosystems.
10 In 1991, the international community made a courageous decision to protect the Antarctic region as a natural reserve for peace and science. This included a ban on mining but this protection does not extend to Antarctica's magnificent marine environment, leaving it at risk."