Protecting lives in the Southern Ocean

View from the deck of a trawl vessel
Trawl vessel (Photo: Robbie Kilpatrick)

5 November 2007

Australia has been instrumental in a move to improve the safety of vessels fishing in the Southern Ocean.

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resource, meeting in Hobart, has adopted an Australian proposal to have the vessels that its Members licence comply with minimum safety standards. These include suitable survival and communications equipment.

The leader of Australia's delegation to CCAMLR – Dr Tony Press, who is the Director of the Australian Antarctic Division – said that with an increasing number of vessels working in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters there is a corresponding increase in the risk of a maritime emergency.

"Responding to any emergency in Antarctica is limited by the environment, the remoteness of the region and the limited availability of suitable ice-rated response vessels.

"Vessel owners and operators must be aware of the dangers and risks of operating in these waters and be appropriately prepared," he said.

"For this reason Australia successfully proposed that all CCAMLR Members require any of their vessels licensed to fish the CCAMLR area in the Southern Ocean to comply with minimum safety standards."