Baleen whales, such as humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae), make yearly migrations to this area to feast on the surplus of krill. Image Credit: ArtTower via Unsplash (Public domain)

Animals South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands15. April 2024

No Fishing Here, to Keep Species Under the Sea Thriving

South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI), a British overseas territory located north of Antarctica, is imposing new no-fishing zones within its existing marine protected area (MPA), expanding the prohibition of krill fishing in those frigid South Atlantic waters.

“If you can lock in and ensure that these key areas that [krill-dependent species are] feeding in will not be fished in the future, you’re giving them the best chance possible as the climate is changing,” explains Johnny Briggs, principal officer at the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy. “As everything is uncertain, you’re supporting this ecosystem as much as possible.”

To safeguard the marine biodiversity within its jurisdiction, the government of SGSSI created a 1.24-million-km2 MPA in 2012, effectively banning all bottom trawling and bottom fishing at depths less than 700 m over a 283,000-km2 area. The new no-take zones within the MPA prohibit all fishing cover 166,000 km2 – prohibiting krill fishing in an additional 17,000 km2 – bringing the MPA’s total protection to 36%. SGSSI is home to millions of seals and birds, and the surrounding waters teem with krill and fish upon which baleen whales like humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) and fin (Balaenoptera physalus) whales feast during their yearly migrations.


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