Legal Framework for the Development of Satellite Monitoring and Pooled Emergency Response Vessel Regimes for Environmental Protection in the Arctic and Southern Oceans

Dr John Abrahamson1

1Sheltons-SITTI, Sydney, Australia

Polar environments are at ever increasing risk of potential environmental emergencies, including oil and chemical spill risks from developing oil and gas activities in the Arctic Ocean region, and research and tourist vessel access in the Southern Ocean.


The long term key to effective oil and chemical spill detection and recovery may include the combination of effective satellite and aircraft oil detection systems, and oil spill recovery vessels capable of operating in heavy seas and partial ice conditions. These measures would have a similar basis to the European Maritime Safety Agency ocean pollution monitoring and response system.


This presentation analyses the legal framework for the development of these measures in the polar regions, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty, the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation, and the Arctic Council’s Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic.


John Abrahamson holds a PhD from the College of Law, ANU, and is admitted to the High Court. His research interests include the Law of the Sea, the Arctic and Southern Ocean regions, and joint development of offshore oil and gas.

His publications include Joint Development of Offshore Oil and Gas Resources in the Arctic Ocean Region (Brill, 2018), and International Taxation of Energy Production and Distribution (Kluwer Law 2018).

John has presented in London, Aberdeen, Durham, Jersey, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Zurich, Lugano, Warsaw, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and Houston.

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