Antarctic territorial claims.
The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is the part of Antarctica claimed by Australia and is the largest territory of Antarctica claimed by any nation. It consists of all the islands and territory south of 60° S and between 44°38' E and 160° E, except for Adélie Land (136°11' E to 142°02' E), which divides the territory into Western AAT (the larger portion) and Eastern AAT. It is bounded by Queen Maud Land in the West and by Ross Dependency in the East. The area is estimated at 5,896,500 km². The territory is inhabited only by the staff of research stations. The Australian Antarctic Division administers the area primarily by maintaining three year-round stations (Mawson, Davis and Casey), which support various research projects.
Australia is among seven nations which have claimed territory in Antarctica. These claims are based on discovery and effective occupation of the claimed area and are legal so far as each nation's laws are concerned. Three countries -- the United Kingdom, Chile and Argentina - have overlapping claims in the Antarctic.
Some countries explicity recognise these claims, some have a policy of not recognising any claims in Antarctica, and others reserve the right to make a claim of their own.
The Antarctic Treaty puts aside the potential for conflict over sovereignty by providing that nothing that occurs while the Treaty is in force will enhance or diminish territorial claims. Member states cannot make any new claims while the Treaty is in force.
Australian Antarctic Territory
Australian Antarctic Territory covers nearly 5.9 million square kilometres, about 42 percent of Antarctica and nearly 80 percent of the total area of Australia itself.
The Australian claim is based on a long historical association with this part of Antarctica. Australia's Douglas Mawson (later Sir Douglas Mawson) led a group of Australians and New Zealanders in the 1911 to 1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition which had bases at Commonwealth Bay, south of Tasmania, and the Shackleton Ice Shelf south of Perth. This expedition explored extensively along the coast near the bases.
Mawson also led the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) of 1929 to 1931. During this expedition Mawson claimed what is now Australian Antarctic Territory as British sovereign territory. Early in 1933, Britain asserted sovereign rights over the claimed territory and placed the territory under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia.
That part of the Territory in the Antarctic seas which comprises all the islands and territories, other than Adelie Land, situated south of the 60th degree south latitude and lying between the 160th degree east longitude and the 45th degree east longitude, is hereby declared to be accepted by the Commonwealth as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, by the name of the Australian Antarctic Territory.
(The Red area is Australian territory)The Madrid Protocol: a singular achievement
Australia decided in 1989 that it would not ratify a planned regime to control mineral resource activity in Antarctica, but instead opted to seek the support of Antarctic Treaty countries for full environmental protection for the continent and its surrounding seas. The Madrid Protocol, signed by Treaty members in that city in 1991, was a direct result of this initiative pursued by Australia, France, Italy and Belgium. It was a landmark agreement in the 30 year history of the Antarctic Treaty.
The Protocol places an indefinite ban on mining or mineral resource activity in Antarctica, designating the Antarctic as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science. It provides a multinational, codified set of environmental standards (Antarctica is the only continent for which this applies), and creates a new system of protected areas. The Protocol establishes environmental principles for the conduct of all activities, which must be assessed for their potential environmental impact before they are undertaken, and provides guidelines for conservation of Antarctic flora and fauna, managing and disposing of waste, and preventing marine pollution.
As a signatory to the Protocol, Australia acted quickly to impose stronger environmental protection measures to its Antarctic activities, notably through introduction of an environmental impact assessment process. In 1994 Australia completed enactment of legislation to ratify the Protocol, which means that all Australians are bound by law to observe its provisions.