The waters off the Antarctic Peninsula are home to diverse and abundant marine life, including iconic species such as orcas, humpback whales, crabeater and fur seals, and around 1.5 million breeding pairs of penguins. But the region is also home to far lesser-known species that underpin the food web, including the tiny shrimplike crustacean, Antarctic krill.
All of this life faces a variety of threats, but today krill gained a reprieve from one of those perils when the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies (ARK) said it would cease krill fishing in a 40-kilometer buffer zone around the Hope Bay, Sheppard Point, and Sheppard Nunatak penguin colonies off the northernmost tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The area totals nearly 4,500 square kilometers—twice the size of Tokyo—and lies within a region of the Antarctic Peninsula that has been proposed as a marine protected area (MPA). That proposal has been under consideration by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the body that oversees fishing and other activity in the Southern Ocean, since 2017.