Antarctic marine park sunk by Russia and China

Greenpeace is launching a campaign to create the largest protected area on earth in the Antarctic.

The Antarctic Sanctuary would cover 1.8 million sq km of ocean in an effort to protect whales, penguins and other wildlife as Antarctic nations fall short on marine protection.

Greenpeace called for governments to show "greater vision and ambition" in the coming year and create the sanctuary, which would be five times the size of Germany.

This comes after the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) met in Hobart on Friday and failed to agree on strong marine protection in the East Antarctic.

"Over the next 12 months we have an opportunity to make history, to create an Antarctic ocean sanctuary which would be the largest protected area on earth," Greenpeace NZ executive director Dr Russel Norman said.

He said ocean sanctuaries also ensure healthy oceans which soak up carbon dioxide and help us to tackle climate change.

"We hope to see the new Labour-led Government take every opportunity to help make this new sanctuary a reality."

The new proposal, submitted by the European Union and championed by the German government, will be considered in October 2018 by the CCAMLR.

In 2016, the CCAMLR created the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area, which included 24 countries and the EU agreeing to protect 1.55 million sq km of ocean from commercial fishing for 35 years in the Ross Sea.

Russia, China sink proposed East Antarctic MPA

A proposal to expand the world's largest marine conservation park in Antarctica by linking it with smaller ones has failed as Russian and Chinese delegates didn't endorse it, a conservationist attending the session says.

At the Hobart meeting, some commission members urged extending protection to a network of areas through East Antarctica's Southern Ocean.

However, the proposal didn't get the needed unanimous support as Russia and China voted against it, Andrea Kavanagh, Antarctic and Southern Ocean director at Pew Charitable Trusts, said.

Russia agreed to last year's Ross Sea proposal after blocking conservation efforts on five previous occasions.

Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-government research organisation, said extending the conservation area would have let marine life travel between reserves to breed and forage, helping to protect roughly 9000 species not found anywhere else.

Ms Kavanagh said it was "disappointing the commission could not agree to protect more of the vast and biologically diverse Southern Ocean".

"For the past six years, the commission has failed to reach consensus on East Antarctic protections," she said.

Member countries passed a research and monitoring plan for the Ross Sea marine park to help scientists study the ecosystem and chart differences between protected and unprotected areas.

Commercial fishing vessels trawl Antarctic waters in search of toothfish and krill, a tiny creature processed for omega 3 supplements and fish food.

Norway, Korea and Japan are the largest krill harvesters with more than 260,000 tonnes taken in 2016, according to the commission.

NZN / Reuters