Theme 3: Southern Ocean Ecosystems: Environmental Change and Conservation

Theme goal: To conduct the scientific research necessary for understanding the impact of global change on Southern Ocean ecosystems, the effective conservation of Antarctic and Southern Ocean wildlife and the sustainable, ecosystem-based management of Southern Ocean fisheries.

The research will be divided into four streams:

  • 3.1 Marine ecosystem change
  • 3.2 Wildlife conservation
  • 3.3 Southern Ocean fisheries
  • 3.4 Protecting marine biodiversity.

Key expected outcomes for this theme are:

  • significantly improved understanding of the impacts of ocean acidification on selected biota and ecosystems of the Southern Ocean, including assessment of their resilience to predicted change scenarios
  • identification of sensitive marine indicator species or systems for tracking and understanding the impacts of environmental change
  • assessment of the risks of global change impacts on Southern Ocean ecosystems and species of high conservation or fisheries value, including evaluation of the probability of different food web structures arising under predicted changes in the ocean and sea ice systems
  • better knowledge about the status and trends of important Antarctic wildlife populations (whales, seals and seabirds), leading to improved conservation planning and management measures
  • improved scientific information for fisheries managers (including improved mitigation strategies to reduce bycatch) and integration of fisheries data into ecosystem models to assist in management decisions
  • the design of a comprehensive, adequate and representative network of spatial management areas, including marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean (and within the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Area), particularly focusing on the marine biodiversity in the waters off East Antarctica.