Penguins in the Ros Sea (C) John Weller

New Zealand and Greenpeace both have a proud history in Antarctica.

With a mixture of public pressure and relentless campaigning, and thanks to some visionary political leadership, Greenpeace helped keep the oil and mining companies out of Antarctica.

And for decades, as its closest neighbour, New Zealand has acted as gatekeeper and guardian of the Ross Sea region.

To this day the continent remains a World Park under the protection of a fifty year moratorium on oil and mineral exploitation.

But, the rich and extraordinary oceans of the region are not protected.

If you sail south from New Zealand and go as far as you can before hitting Antarctica, you’ll find yourself in a spectacular icy wonderland, that is crowded with life. It is both the world’s southernmost ocean and the most pristine marine ecosystem on Earth.

This is why it has been called The Last Ocean and why it needs our protection.

You’ve found yourself in the Ross Sea, a huge bay cut into the vast Antarctic continent. It is home to an incredible array of animals - many found nowhere else on the planet. Large predatory toothfish, pods of orca, leopard seals, Emperor and Adelie penguins, Antarctic petrels and trillions of phytoplankton and krill that cascade up the food-web underpinning the whole ecology.

At the heart of the ecosystem the unusual biological productivity of the Ross Sea sustains life over vast reaches of land and sea – it is the jewel in the crown of Antarctica’s ocean.

Unlike most of the world's oceans, it has no widespread pollution, invasive species, mining and - until recently - no large-scale commercial fishing. This living laboratory allows scientists to understand just how a healthy marine ecosystem functions.

It is like nowhere else on Earth.

This year, the world’s Governments are meeting to decide the fate of the Ross Sea and New Zealand is key to that process. It’s up to us to ensure that our Government knows that we know, knows that we care, and knows what we expect of them.

Send a message to Hon Murray McCully, NZ’s Minister of Foreign Affairs now telling him that you want to see the Ross Sea properly protected.

As the traditional guardian of the area, New Zealand has a great responsibility to ensure this miraculous Last Ocean is protected for generations to come and not harmed by short-sighted exploitation.