International efforts deliver environmental rewards

A record 17 management plans were approved for Antarctic Specially Protected Areas or Antarctic Specially Managed Areas at the 8th Committee for Environmental Protection meeting (CEP) in Stockholm in June.

These included Australia’s revised specially protected area plans for Ardery and Odbert Islands near Casey station and Taylor Rookery and Rookery Islands near Mawson station, and a plan for a new specially protected area at Scullin and Murray Monoliths. This pair of spectacular near-vertical rock outcrops rises dramatically from the sea and supports the greatest concentration of breeding seabird colonies in East Antarctica, including the second largest colony of Antarctic petrels.

In past years the Committee — which meets during the first week of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting — has developed a series of guidelines to promote consistent application of appropriate environmental practices by national Antarctic operators. Guidelines adopted during this year’s meeting included:

  • Updated Guidelines for Environmental Impact Assessment in Antarctica to better address the potential cumulative impacts of proposed activities;
  • Guidelines to provide for the listing, delisting and management of Antarctic species of high conservation status; and
  • Practical Guidelines for Developing and Designing Environmental Monitoring Programmes in Antarctica, to be used in conjunction with standard monitoring techniques and methodologies.
The meeting considered a range of other issues including:
  • Restrictions on the use of heavy fuel oil in vessels traversing Antarctic waters;
  • Protecting the probable location of Roald Amundsen’s tent near the South Pole;
  • The environmental impacts of two new research stations — the United Kingdom’s HalleyVI Station on the Brundt Ice Shelf and Germany’s Neumayer Station on the Ekström Ice Shelf; and
  • The results of environmental inspection reports on the Antarctic Peninsula.

The CEP was established under the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol). It has 32 member countries and is chaired by Australian Antarctic Division Director, Tony Press.

More information about the CEP, including the documents considered in Stockholm and the final report.

EWAN McIVOR, Environmental Policy and Protection Section, AAD