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Win for wildlife as krill fishing restricted in Antarctica

AFP  |  Sydney 

Five major firms today agreed to halt operations across huge swathes of the to help protect wildlife in a move hailed as "bold and progressive" by conservationists.

The vast frozen continent is home to penguins, seals, whales and other marine life with a for many species.

But a combination of climate change and industrial-scale has been hitting populations of the small crustacean, with potentially disastrous impacts on larger predators.

Now the five companies that make up the Association of Responsible Harvesting (ARK) -- from Norway, Chile, and -- have agreed to stop in sensitive coastal areas.

They also threw their support behind a planned network of marine protected areas (MPAs) throughout the Southern Ocean, including in places where they currently operate.

"Our members agree that the industry must develop sustainably to ensure long-term viability of the krill stocks and the predators that depend on it," ARK said in a statement.

"Today, we are moving forward with a pioneer initiative, implementing voluntary restricted zones for the krill fishery in the Peninsula." The shrimp-like crustacean, which is rich in protein, is primarily used in the aquaculture industry although its is a popular nutritional supplement.

ARK represent 85 per cent of the krill fishing industry and conservationists said it was a significant move.

"This is a bold and progressive response from these krill fishing companies, and we hope to see the remainder of the krill industry follow suit," said

"The momentum for protection of the Antarctic's waters and wildlife is snowballing." Plans were set out in 2009 to establish a series of MPAs in the allowing marine life to migrate between areas for breeding and foraging.

But progress has been slow by members of the Conservation of (CCAMLR) -- a treaty tasked with overseeing protection and sustainable exploitation in the area.

While a massive US and New Zealand-backed MPA around the -- covering an area roughly the size of Britain, and combined -- was agreed in 2016, an and France-led push to create a second protected area in failed last year.

and were widely seen as the stumbling blocks -- worried about compliance issues and fishing rights.

Consensus is needed from all 24 member countries and the

They meet again in in October when a third, German-backed plan to protect the Weddell Sea, which extends from the southeast of over some 2.8 million sq km, will also be on the agenda.

Andrea Kavanagh, of The Pew Charitable Trusts' Antarctic and work, said she hoped CCAMLR could build on the krill decision.

"Governments should follow industry's lead and support MPAs," she said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, July 10 2018. 08:30 IST