World’s largest marine park created in Antarctic Ocean

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Image: Penguins can be seen next to the heritage-listed Mawson’s Hut at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica December 10, 2009. REUTERS/Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Twenty-four countries on Friday agreed to create the world’s largest marine park in the Antarctic Ocean, covering a massive 1.55 mln sq km (600,000 sq miles) of ocean.

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, meeting in Hobart, Australia, said the Ross Sea marine park will be protected from fishing for 35 years.

The Ross Sea is seen as one of the world’s most ecologically important oceans. The sanctuary will cover more than 12 percent of the Southern Ocean, which is home to more than 10,000 species including most of the world’s penguins, whales, seabirds, colossal squid and Antarctic tooth fish.

Russia agreed to the proposal, after blocking conservation proposals on five previous occasions.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry)

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