All activities in the Antarctic region must be granted environmental approval and authorisation before commencing activities.

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) is responsible for authorising:

  • All Australian activities in the Antarctic Treaty Area (south of 60ºS)
  • All Australian activities in the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CAMLR) Area
  • All activities in the Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) Territory, regardless of nationality.


Antarctica, the Southern Ocean and sub-Antarctic islands are unique and fragile environments. The Antarctic Treaty establishes Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.

Australia is strongly committed to protecting the Antarctic environment and the AAD is responsible for fulfilling that commitment on behalf of the Australian people and government.

Antarctic Treaty parties implement the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty (Environmental Protocol) through domestic legislation, and are responsible for authorising activities by their own citizens and organisations.

Australian activities in Antarctica are administered and regulated by the AAD, in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980.

Australian citizens, organisations and expeditioners must apply for environmental approval before conducting scientific, operational, recreational or any other activities in the Antarctic region.

Australian Expeditions

All proposed Australian Antarctic expeditions must apply for environmental approval by submitting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of proposed activities to the AAD.

Australian Antarctic expeditions are activities organised by any of the following:

  • Australian organisation
  • Australian citizen
  • Australian resident

Australian activities include, but are not limited to, any of the following:

  • Projects that are part of the Australian Antarctic Program
  • Projects under any other Australian Government agency or department
  • Projects under any other Australian non-Government organisation
  • Research projects by Australian citizens, institutions or organisations
  • Australian tourism operators (departing from anywhere)
  • Private expeditions by Australian citizens, institutions or organisations.

For non-Australian activities, please contact the relevant National Competent Authority.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process

The AAD manages EIAs and authorisations in accordance with Australia’s international obligations to the Antarctic Treaty system (ATS) and best practice environmental standards, under the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980 (ATEP Act) and the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1993.

EIA applications should be submitted at least 3 months before the proposed start date of activities in the Antarctic region.

Key steps of EIA process:

  1. Application
  2. Assessment
  3. Approval and authorisation
  4. Conduct activities and report.

For more information, please refer to:

Key documents and forms

For more information or guidance, please contact the Antarctic and Environmental Regulation Section