UPDATED: Marine Protected Areas around albatross and petrel islands in the South Atlantic to expand

UPDATE:  The suite of enhancements "designed to further conserve the rich biodiversity found within the ocean" and described below have now been signed into force (click here).

"The enhanced measures include a large increase in the proportion of the 1.24 million km2 MPA within which all commercial fishing activity is prohibited. No-take zones now cover over 23 % of the MPA (284,000 km2). The no-take zones protect the most biodiverse habits found within the Southern Ocean. ... In order to further reduce competition for resources between the fishery for Antarctic Krill and the abundant populations of krill-dependent predators such as penguins, fur seals and flying seabirds, the closed season has been extended by two months across all 1.24 million km2 of the MPA. This seven-month closure prevents overlap between the fishery and predators during the key part of their breeding season when their foraging ranges are restricted."


The current 1.24-million-km2 Marine Protected Area (MPA) around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur)* in the South Atlantic is to be expanded in area and also in the levels of protection it offers.  These islands support globally important populations of procellariiform and other seabirds, including seven species of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels.

A 54-year old globally Endangered Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma and its chick on Bird Island, photograph by Stephanie Winnard

The changes include:

  • Extension of the No-Take Zone (NTZ) around South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* from 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) to 30 km, increasing its area from 13 899 km2 to 18 520 km2 to protect the spawning aggregations of many fish species and the foraging areas of inshore marine predators
  • Establishment of a NTZ and a pelagic closed area in zones extending 50 km from the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Sandwich del Sur)*, resulting in areas of 28 054 km2 and 23 755 km2, respectively, increasing both the size of the total NTZ and the area closed to pelagic commercial fishing activity.

Overall, the NTZs closed to all commercial fishing activity will expand to cover 23% (284 000 km2) of the MPA.  More details of the above and other changes may be found here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 05 March 2019, updated 06 June 2019

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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