Penguin on the blue ice. Image by John B. Weller

Over the last year we've been part of a group of NGOs called the Antarctic Oceans Alliance, calling for 3.6 square kilometres of Ross Sea habitats to be protected based on current scientific research. And a joint US and New Zealand Ross Sea protection proposal could have become a key foundation for a network of marine protected areas and reserves in the Southern Ocean.

But when put to the 25-member Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) last week, this vital proposal was knocked down, with heavy resistance coming from Ukraine, Russia and China.

This report on Reuters covers the meeting:

"This year, CCAMLR has behaved like a fisheries organization instead of an organization dedicated to conservation of Antarctic waters," said Farah Obaidullah of Greenpeace.

Among proposals, a U.S.-New Zealand plan would have created a 1.6 million sq km (0.6 million sq miles) protected area in the Ross Sea - about the size of Iran.

CCAMLR said in a statement that members had identified several regions of the Southern Ocean that warrant high levels of protection.

"These important areas can provide a reference for scientific research on the impacts of activities such as fishing, as well as significant opportunities for monitoring the impacts of climate change in the Southern Ocean," it said.

Head to Reuters to continue reading.

The Ross Sea is one of the most pristine oceans left on earth. And we need to keep it that way! Stay tuned later next year when a special session in Germany will be held in an attempt to break the international deadlock.

Image: Penguin on the blue ice. © John B. Weller