Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

A long line of hundreds of penguins march past an ice cliff.
Emperor penguins migrating to new location within their territorial area of the Auster rookery (Photo: Australian Antarctic Division)

Introducing the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)

The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources came into force in 1982 and forms an important part of the Antarctic Treaty system. Its work also complements the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses & Petrels - ACAP.

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established under the convention and it manages living marine resources in the convention area. 

Australia's primary goal within the commission is to ensure the conservation of the marine living resources within the CCAMLR area. An important related goal is to enhance Australia's influence in the Antarctic Treaty system and to maintain Australia's reputation as a responsible manager of marine resources.

The convention's main objective is the 'conservation of Antarctic marine living resources' where conservation includes rational use. Importantly the convention requires the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources and that decisions about rational use must be based on an ecosystem approach. Unlike other fisheries agreements that focus only on the status of the commercial target species, CCAMLR requires consideration is given to all species in the ecosystem and to conserving ecological relationships. This was a very far-sighted and unprecedented approach at the time the convention was negotiated.

The convention defines three principles of conservation which any harvesting activities must comply, these are:

  • the prevention of the decrease in the size of any harvested population to levels below those that ensure its stable recruitment
  • the maintenance of the ecological relationships between harvested, dependent and related populations, and the restoration of depleted populations, and
  • the prevention of changes or the minimisation of the risk of changes in the marine ecosystem, which are not potentially reversible over two or three decades.