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.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Countries that manage Antarctica plan tough new controls on ships visiting the southern oceans and the fuels they use to reduce the threat of human and environmental disasters as tourist numbers rise, officials said Saturday.
The new code will reduce the number of ships carrying tourists into the region by requiring that all vessels have hulls strengthened to withstand sea ice. Officials and ship operators said a ban on heavy fuel oil will effectively shut out big cruise ships.
Experts from among the 47 signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty — the world's main tool for managing the continent — and the International Maritime Organization discussed plans to impose a mandatory Polar Code to control all shipping in the region at a meeting in the New Zealand capital, Wellington.
The safeguards are seen as necessary to limit accidents in the region, where blinding sleet, fog, high winds and treacherous seas pose major dangers for ships and huge problems for rescuers located thousands of miles (kilometers) from remote Antarctic waters.
The code will cover vessel design, safety equipment, ship operations and crew training for ice navigation, meeting chairman and New Zealand Antarctic policy specialist Trevor Hughes said.
The nearly completed Polar Code is expected to be in place by 2013, he said. Once approved, it would operate on a voluntary basis until it is ratified by treaty states and becomes legally binding.
While existing rules bar tourists or tour operators from leaving anything behind — like garbage or human waste — and require protection of animal breeding grounds, there are no formal codes on the kind of vessels that can use the waters or the kinds of fuel and other oil products they can carry.
In March, the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations' shipping agency, is to ratify a ban on the carriage or use of heavy fuel oil in Antarctica. It is to come into effect in 2011.
The moves follow a huge growth in tourist traffic as people flock to see the world's last great wilderness.
Annual tourist numbers have grown from about 10,000 a decade ago to 45,000 last year. Tourists can pay between $3,000 and $24,000 for a two-week trip. Some travel on ships carrying up to 3,000 passengers that also take many tons of heavy fuel oil, chemicals and garbage that can pollute the region.
Nathan Russ, operations manager of Antarctic eco-tourism company Heritage Expeditions, said the proposed heavy fuel ban "will most likely regulate the biggest cruise ships out of Antarctic operations" because of the costs involved in switching to lighter fuel.
The Antarctic Treaty, first signed in 1959, is the main tool for regulating what is the world's only continent without a native human population. New Zealand is one of the dozen founding members of the treaty, along with Australia the United States, Russia and Britain. The treaty now has 47 signatories.
The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively called the Antarctic Treaty System or ATS, regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude. The treaty has now been signed by 47 countries, and set aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, established freedom of scientific investigation and banned military activity on that continent. This was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War.
The main treaty was opened for signature on December 1, 1959, and officially entered into force on June 23, 1961.
The original signatories were the 12 countries active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-58 and willing to accept a US invitation to the conference at which the treaty was negotiated. These countries were the ones with significant interests in Antarctica at the time: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom. Among them, the signatories had established over 50 Antarctic stations for the IGY. The treaty was a diplomatic expression of the operational and scientific cooperation that had been achieved "on the ice".
Since the designation of the Australian Antarctic Territory pre-dated the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, in 1959 some of the complex suite of Australian laws that relate to Antarctica date from more than two decades before the Antarctic Treaty era. In terms of criminal law, the laws that apply to the Jervis Bay Territory (a non-contiguous part of the Australian Capital Territory) apply to the Australian Antarctic Territory. Key Australian legislation applying Antarctic Treaty System decisions include the Antarctic Treaty Act 1960, the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980 and the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Conservation Act 1981.
The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is the part of Antarctica claimed by Australia and is the largest territory of Antarctica claimed by any nation.
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Australia is among seven nations which have claimed territory in Antarctica. The other claimant nations are Argentina, Chile, France, New zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.
The Australian claim is based on discovery and a long historical association with this part of Antarctica.
Australia's Douglas Mawson led the 1911 to 1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) which established bases at Commonwealth Bay and the Shackleton Ice Shelf. The expedition explored extensively along the coast near the bases and claimed this land as British territory.
In 1929 – 1931 further extensive claims to sovereignty were made by the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research (BANZARE) expedition again led by Douglas Mawson.
Three new landings were made and aircraft flights discovered the BANZARE Coast and Princess Elizabeth Land. The expedition also generated scientific results that were so voluminous that reports were still being published three decades later.
In two summer voyages Discovery and the expedition aircraft traversed the whole coastline from 45°E to 160°E, defining the limits of what was to become the Australian Antarctic Territory. Mawson made proclamations claiming sovereignty for Britain over Antarctic lands at each of landfall.
Photographer Australasian Antarctic Expedition
James Francis (Frank) Hurley (1885-1962) is regarded as an extraordinary Australian photographer, adventurer, filmmaker and writer. His craving for exploration and adventure complemented his image-making to produce some of the most enduring achievements of Australian photography, and a profound impact on a young Australian film industry.
Hurley's most consequential work comes from his first two trips to Antarctica. Among his best known images, are those of the destruction of the Endurance, during Ernest Shackleton's legendary ill-fated Antarctic expedition of 1914-16.
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June 1, 2012.
New Shelf rights an opportunity for greater protection.
New rights over the seabed do not mean Australia wants to mine it, says TONY PRESS
Australia's proclamation last month of its rights over 11 million square kilometres of continental shelf is the culmination of two decades of scientific research and international diplomacy. The proclamation gives Australia exclusive rights to the resources of the seabed over an area greater than the Australian landmass.
Even though Australia's rights over these areas are affirmed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, there was an almost immediate comment that this sovereign action by Australia might provoke conflict in the Antarctic Treaty.
Comments on ABC Online refer to two areas of continental shelf extending from the north into the Antarctic Treaty area south of 60 degrees. The largest of these areas is the extended continental shelf arising from the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands between Australia and South Africa; the other is from Macquarie Island, which is part of the state of Tasmania. The suggestion of conflict shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what has actually happened here.
Couple this misunderstanding with the inference that because Australia now has exclusive rights over the seabed it will open all of these areas to mining and we have the inevitable conclusion that Australia is interested in mining in the Antarctic Treaty area. There are no objective facts to support this conclusion.
Quite to the contrary, Australia can use this opportunity to use its exclusive rights to protect these areas.
Let us start with the fact that it was Australia that first walked away from the Antarctic minerals negotiations in 1989, and, along with France and others, negotiated the international protocol that prohibits mining in the Antarctic (the Madrid Protocol).
Abandoning the minerals convention had strong bipartisan political support in Australia - it was John Howard who raised the issue in Parliament in the late 1980s and it was Bob Hawke who, as prime minister, changed Australia's policy and garnered the agreement with France to overturn the steady diplomatic talks that would have seen the Antarctic minerals convention enter into force. The Madrid Protocol prohibits mining in the Antarctic Treaty area - that is, all the oceans and seabed below 60 degrees south, and Antarctica itself. Australia has enacted legislation to enforce the commitments in the Madrid Protocol, including the prohibition on mining.
Comment in the media after last Friday's announcement inferred that Australia's proclamation of the extended continental shelves appurtenant to Heard Island and Macquarie Island are new Antarctic claims contrary to the Antarctic Treaty. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Antarctic Treaty does prohibit new claims, but the extended continental shelves are not new claims - they are areas where rights can be exercised. These rights, granted under international law, flow from existing sovereignty outside the Antarctic Treaty area. This is what is known as the ''outside-inside'' issue, where rights under the Law of the Sea extend into the Antarctic Treaty area.
While this may seem like an arcane piece of international law, it does have practical implications for Australia in the Antarctic Treaty system. Australia can use this proclamation to further protect the Antarctic environment by using it to deny access to the sea floor by countries that have not signed up to the Madrid Protocol.
Australia could also go further and protect seabed marine living resources in all of the areas of its extended continental shelf, not only in the Antarctic Treaty area but in those parts of the Heard Island and Macquarie Island extended continental shelf that lie within the area of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
A prohibition by Australia on destructive bottom fishing on its extended continental shelf would greatly assist international efforts in the area.
Australia will be hosting the Antarctic Treaty meeting in Hobart in the middle of this month. There are no legal or diplomatic surprises in the action taken by Australia. A clear statement of Australia's continued commitment to protect the Antarctic environment will reinforce that there is no real or perceived conflict between its continental shelf proclamation and the Antarctic Treaty.
Australia to create world's largest network of marine parks.
June 14, 2012
The Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea reserve will become the world's largest joint protected area
Australia plans to create the world's largest network of marine reserves, its government announced Thursday.
The proposal would increase the number of protected areas from 27 to 60 and would cover 3.1 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles), roughly one-third of Australia's waters.
"We have an incredible opportunity to turn the tide on protection of the oceans and Australia can lead the world in marine protection," said Tony Burke, the country's environment minister.
"This new network of marine reserves will help ensure that Australia's diverse marine environment, and the life it supports, remain healthy, productive and resilient for future generations."
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Coral Sea marine reserve will become the world's largest adjoining marine protected area, covering 1.3 million square kilometers.
Interactive: Conservation hits and misses
"Our aim is to protect our unique marine environment, while supporting coastal communities and marine industries around the country," said Burke.
"Over the coming months, the government will consult the fishing industry and fisheries management agencies on the design and implementation of a fisheries adjustment assistance package."
WWF Australia hailed the plan as an "important example to the world." The newly created sanctuaries would give protection to Australia's biggest undersea mountain range, the Diamantina fracture zone off the southwest coast, as well as new parts of the Coral Sea that are critical nesting sites for green turtles and rich in large predatory fish and sharks.
Paul Gambin from WWF Australia cautioned that some areas equally rich in biodiversity had not been included in the plan, possibly because of their proximity to rich reserves of fossil fuels.
"Oil and gas rigs are still moving ever closer to places like the stunning Rowley Shoals and Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia," said Gambin in a press statement. "These are among the jewels in the crown for Australia's marine environment and surrounding waters have not been protected under this plan."
The marine reserves network is expected to be finalized before the end of 2012.
Push for more Antarctic protection.
A meeting of 25 member countries of the Commission for the Conservation of Living Marine Resources (CAMLR) is being held in Hobart.
Four proposals are on the table to protect more than four million square kilometres of ocean and ice.
Australia is behind a proposal to foster greater conservation of Antarctica.
It is working with France on a proposal for next week's meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CAMLR).
The parks would include seven protected areas covering 1.1 million square kilometres.
Current rules govern the management of the fisheries and scientific research.
Australia's representative to CAMLR, Tony Fleming, says the proposal will be put to the meeting in Hobart.
"It would provide protection of the high conservation values in East Antarctica but it would also allow for sustainable fishing in East Antarctica as well," he said.
"One of the proposals will protect spawning grounds for krill and fish like toothfish.
"The proposals would also protect the feeding grounds of penguins and marine mammals."
April 9, 2009
Marine park a step closer
October 30, 2012
PLANS for the world's biggest marine park, in Antarctica, have received a significant boost after the US and New Zealand resolved a major split on the issue.
The two nations had been divided on the plan for the Ross Sea -- largely over the issue of New Zealand's harvest of Antarctic toothfish -- but have now agreed a common proposal covering 2.27 million square kilometres.
The deal -- allowing "light" fishing rather than banning it altogether in a key New Zealand toothfishing ground -- dramatically increases the prospects of the world body for Antarctic marine life accepting the move.
US and New Zealand negotiators told The Australian yesterday that the compromise -- news of which was broken by The Australian online -- included a 1.6 million sq km "no take" zone where fishing would be banned.
Without a joint proposal, it had been expected that the Commission for the Conservation of Marine Living Resources, meeting in Hobart, would fail to reach agreement on a marine park for the Ross Sea, south of New Zealand.
The joint plan means an outcome is far more likely, although not guaranteed, while the future of a joint Australian-French plan for a 1.9 million sq kilometre marine park in East Antarctica also hangs in the balance.
The stand-off between the US and New Zealand had reached the highest levels, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushing for a resolution and New Zealand sending senior diplomat Gerard van Bohemen to the CCAMLR summit.
A final decision is expected late this week.
"We now have to get everyone else on board and that process has begun in earnest," US Ocean and Polar Affairs director Evan Bloom told The Australian.
New Zealand negotiator Carolyn Schwalger said the compromise with the US on the Ross Sea marine park would not reduce her country's $14 million a year toothfish harvest.
"None of the marine park area proposals are about reducing fishing; they are all about moving fishing into areas that will have less of a negative impact on the wider ecosystem," she said.
The two nations still appear divided on whether the giant marine park should have a sunset clause, beyond an agreed 10-year review.
CCAMLR delegates heard an emotional plea in favour of a Ross Sea marine reserve from the great, great, great granddaughter of 19th century explorer James Clark Ross, after whom the area is named.
Philippa Ross urged delegates to "show the same courage and resilience" as her forebear.
"This is your last chance to save the last ocean," she said.
Antarctic marine park negotiations end in failure
1 November 2012.
Delegates at an international conference in Hobart have failed to agree on new reserves in Antarctic waters.
About 250 delegates representing 25 countries have been locked in talks at the meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
Australia wanted 1.9 million kilometres of Antarctica's east coast protected. France and the European Union had backed the proposal.
The Commission will reconsider the plan at a meeting in Germany next year.
After 11 days of intense talks, the meeting was dogged by conflicting demands, among them China's concern over restrictions to ocean resources.
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance and the World Wildlife Fund say they are disappointed a consensus could not be reached.
Protesters had staged an eleventh-hour vigil, where international negotiators face a deadline to agree on Antarctic marine protection.
Antarctic Ocean Alliance campaign manager Steve Campbell had said the failure to find consensus could impact on climate change research, sustainable fishing and wildlife.
China Blocks Protection of Antarctica’s Waters:
November 1, 2012
Some 1.2 million people asked the 25 member governments of the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR, composed of 24 countries and the EU) to take action during their annual meeting this week to conserve Antarctic marine ecosystems. Most of them answered this call and were prepared to work on proposals for marine protected areas and reserves in the ecologically important Ross Sea and East Antarctic regions. Ultimately, however, the Antarctic conservation aspirations of the majority of CCAMLR members were reportedly blocked by just a few countries, under the leadership of China.
CCAMLR requires consensus on all decisions, which allows a small minority to stifle the aims of the majority.
Since 2009, CCAMLR members and observer organizations have worked constructively to develop a system of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica. CCAMLR members pledged to develop this network to help fulfill the targets set by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The WSSD targets call for countries around the world to establish representative networks of MPAs throughout the world’s oceans by 2012, and CCAMLR agreed that it would create such a network in the Southern Ocean by that time. This pledge was followed up with intensive scientific analysis, special workshops, and targeted diplomatic engagement.
At last year’s CCAMLR meeting, experts advised that the science on the ecosystems of the Ross Sea and East Antarctica was sufficient to move forward with creating MPAs in those areas. In the case of the Ross Sea, there is a long, impressive record of important scientific research, and the ecosystem itself has been identified as one of the most pristine marine ecosystems remaining on the planet. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine a more ideal candidate for protection. East Antarctica is a vast region with many significant populations of seabirds and marine mammals plus unique bioregions – again, an obvious area to protect.
Nevertheless, the meeting closed on Thursday without any new MPAs designated, to the disappointment of the countries that had put forward proposals, the environmental community, and those 1.2 million people. So what happened? It seems some countries are putting economic gain over conservation, even though CCAMLR is first and foremost a conservation body (as its name implies). According to a report in The Australian, a major Australian newspaper, China blocked all MPA proposals this year due to its desire to maintain access to fishing. Interestingly enough, China does not currently fish in any of the areas proposed for MPAs, meaning that it would be prioritizing potential economic gain over certain conservation benefit.
CCAMLR’s meetings aren’t open to the public. An official meeting report is published but it is not a transcript of the proceedings, so many comments will not be reflected in the official record. However, other countries known to be skeptical of MPAs include Russia and the Ukraine. Science and conservation in the interest of the broader public is getting trumped by economic concerns in service of a few. The recalcitrant countries are not convinced by reams of scientific data from experienced researchers, and they are not too concerned about living up to their own promises. The result is that our oceans don’t get the protections they need, whether in the Southern Ocean or anywhere else.
The Southern Ocean is relatively remote, and fishing activity is less intense than it is in many parts of the world. If countries can’t protect the marine ecosystems here, then what hope is there for the rest of the world?
CCAMLR members have agreed to continue working on MPAs in advance of their 2013 meeting. The question remains whether all countries are truly willing to live up to their commitments and give the amazing biodiversity of the Southern Ocean the protection it deserves.