As global energy demand increases, so does pressure to explore and develop the estimated 25 per cent of global undiscovered energy resources that may reside in the Arctic (USGS 2005b). The past year saw an increase in oil and gas related activities, and
in planning and preparations for expanded development in several areas of the Arctic. These developments bring economic
opportunities to parts of the Arctic, but also impacts and risks to the environment and to Arctic residents. Changes in sea ice are
opening opportunities for development, transportation and settlement, and at the same time increasing political awareness of
the need for measures to conserve coastal and marine ecosystems (Box 4).
In the Antarctic, the number of tourists landing on continental Antarctica continued its sharp rise. From 1992–1993 to 2004–2005 there was an increase of 308 per cent in the
number of ship-borne tourists visiting Antarctica (UNGA 2005). This increase is accompanied by increased diversification of tourist activities, including high-risk adventure tourism. The increased numbers and diversification bring new management challenges.
Antarctic marine harvesting is dominated by two fisheries, krill and toothfish (often marketed as Chilean Sea Bass), managed
under the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Notwithstanding efforts under CCAMLR, concerns about the sustainability of the fishery for toothfish have continued, in relation to both target fish stocks, seabirds and other species caught inadvertently. For the 2004–2005 season, 14 074 tonnes of toothfish were harvested in the authorised fishery within the CCAMLR Area – a further 8 511 tonnes were reportedly caught outside the boundaries (CCAMLR 2005a). An additional 3 023 tonnes of toothfish were estimated to have been caught through Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing within the Area (CCAMLR 2005b).
There are some indications that IUU fishing within the CCAMLR Area may have decreased
recently, although it is too early to determine whether this is a genuine or enduring change. Krill fishing reached a peak of over
500 000 tonnes per year in the early 1980s, then declined in the 1990s due to processing problems and changes in markets and subsidies. The fishery has now started to increase rapidly (Clark and Hemmings 2001). Annual catches areincreasing steeply. By September 2005, the 2004–2005 harvest was already 124 535 tonnes with several months of the period still to run, compared with 102 202 tonnes in 2003–2004 (CCAMLR 2005a). Notifications of intention to harvest krill in the 2005–2006 season total 245 000 tonnes.
Box 6: Addressing environmental emergencies
The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic . Treaty 1991 (the Madrid Protocol) designates Antarctica as “a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science” (Article 2). In June 2005, at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting XXVIII in Stockholm, a 6th Annex to the Protocol was adopted addressing Liability Arising from Environmental Emergencies. This was the outcome
of 13 years of negotiations on liability rules in the event of environmental emergencies in the region and was the first new legal instrument adopted under the Antarctic .Treaty System since 1991.
The Annex outlines guidelines regarding preventive measures, contingency plans, response actions, as well as liabilities for environmental emergencies. The Protocol’s five other Annexes address
environmental impact assessments, conservation of flora and fauna, waste disposal and management, prevention of marine pollution, and protected areas and management. The Protocol and its Annexes create rules and guidelines that work together to
comprehensively protect the Antarctic environment and its associated ecosystems.
Source: ATS 2005