The world's largest marine park, covering 1.55 million square kilometres of the Ross Sea off Antarctica, will be established as a result of a landmark agreement reached in Hobart.
This outcome was made possible by China ending its resistance to a proposed "no-take zone" across 1.12 million square kilometres or 72% of the new marine park. It means that fishing in the area will be banned, with the exemption of krill and toothfish in designated areas.
China initially opposed the proposal, but changed its position at a CCAMLR meeting at the end of 2015, as University of New England senior lecturer Nengye Liu explains in The Conversation.
He argues that as a latecomer to the current global ocean governance regime "it has taken time for China to develop the necessary diplomatic and scientific expertise to become comfortable in this space. As a historic rule-taker rather than rule-maker, its government may need to overcome a natural mistrust of many existing regimes".
The proposal had been put forward by New Zealand and the US five years ago. Meanwhile, Australia has proposed a representative system of MPA’s covering approximately one million square kilometres of Ocean in East Antarctica, which will be considered again at next year’s CCAMLR meeting.