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Antarctic Region - Governing Instruments

Regional Profile Contacts Participating Countries Website


The Antarctic region is an independent partner programme to the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans. As a result over concerns for the health of the Antarctic ecosystem the Antarctic Treaty was adopted, followed by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The CCAMLR area applies to the Antarctic marine living resources of the area south of 60° South latitude and to the Antarctic marine living resources of the area between that latitude and the Antarctic Convergence which form part of the Antarctic marine ecosystem (CCAMLR 2004). The CCAMLR area therefore includes the Antarctic Treaty Area (which applies only south of 60oS) as well as high seas areas south of the Convergence.


The Antarctic Treaty

Signed: 1 December 1959 (by the 12 nations present in Antarctica at that time, and a further 31 nations signed the Treaty after it came into force in 1961 and is still open to any member of the United Nations)
Entered into force:
23 June 1961
For full text of the Convention link to: http://www.ats.aq


Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty

Signed: 1991
Entered into force: 14 January 1998
For full text of the text link to: http://www.cep.aq/default.asp?casid=5074
Or refer to: Handbook of the Antarctic Treaty System.(2002) Ninth Edition,
Published by the US Department of State, July 2002, 1012 pp.


The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

Year adopted: 20 May 1980
Year entered into force: 7 April 1982

Contracting Parties : Argentina, Namibia, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Norway, Brazil, Poland, Chile, Russia, European Community, South Africa, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, India, Ukraine, India, Italy, United Kingdom, Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Uruguay, Bulgaria, Greece, Canada, Netherlands, Finland, Peru and Vanuatu (CCAMLR 2004).

Main Objective: The conservation of Antarctic marine living resources, with conservation being defined to include rational use.

(i) Exploited populations shall not be allowed to fall below a level close to that which ensures their greatest net annual increase;

(ii) Ecological relationships between harvested, dependent and related species shall be maintained and depleted populations shall be restored to the levels defined in (i); and

(iii) Risks of changes to the marine ecosystem that are not potentially reversible over two or three decades shall be prevented or minimised.

These principles embody what has been called the 'ecosystem approach' to resource conservation and specifically include reference to the need for minimisation of risk in terms of irreversible changes, the 'precautionary approach' (CCAMLR 2004).

For full text of the Convention link to: http://www.oceanlaw.net/texts/ccamlr.htm

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