The world's largest marine reserve aimed at protecting the pristine wilderness of Antarctica will be created after a "momentous" agreement was finally reached on Friday.
The deal, sealed by the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) at an annual meeting in Hobart after years of negotiations, will see a massive US and New Zealand-backed marine protected area established in the Ross Sea.
It will cover more than 600,000 square miles, of which three-quarters will be a no fishing zone, Murray McCully, New Zealand's Foreign Minister, announced.
"The proposal required some changes in order to gain the unanimous support of all 25 CCAMLR members and the final agreement balances marine protection, sustainable fishing and science interests," New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said.
"The boundaries of the MPA, however, remain unchanged."
Moscow was the last government opposing the move, due to concerns over fishing rights, after China offered its support last year.
Both reserve proposals have been on the table since 2012 with CCAMLR - a treaty tasked with overseeing conservation and sustainable exploitation of the Antarctic Ocean, also known as the Southern Ocean.
Consensus is needed from all 24 member countries and the European Union.
"For the first time, countries have put aside their differences to protect a large area of the Southern Ocean and international waters," said Mike Walker, project director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance.
The Ross Sea is one of the last intact marine ecosystems in the world, home to penguins, seals, Antarctic toothfish, and whales.
Chris Johnson, WWF-Australia Ocean Science Manager, described the Ross Sea as "one of the most pristine wilderness areas left on Earth".