What impact will the BBNJ discussions have on CCAMLR particularly relating to the establishment of MPAs in the Southern Ocean?

Ms Danielle Smith1

1Faculty of Law, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania, ,

The system of governance in place for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean is unique. Several claimant States have made territorial claims however; other states in the international system have not recognised these claims. In 1959, the Antarctic Treaty was negotiated by 12 states to provide a framework for the continent to be used for peaceful purposes, namely scientific research. The Treaty effectively suspended the legal effects of the claims. For some, the Southern ocean is considered a global commons. The marine resources are regulated by the 1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CAMLR) and implemented by an international Commission. Currently, negotiations for an internationally legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction are underway. One element of the proposed instrument relates to measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas (MPAs). To date, two high seas MPAs have been established under the CAMLR Convention. This paper discusses what impact the new UNCLOS instrument may have on the complex governing system of Antarctica, particularly relating to the establishment of MPAs in the Southern Ocean.


Danielle Smith (BSc(Hon), MSc, C.WEM, C.Sci, C.Env) is undertaking a PhD research project with the Faculty of Law and Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. Her research looks at the factors contributing to the effectiveness of legal regimes in establishing and implementing marine protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction, in particular in the Southern Ocean under the CCAMLR Convention and in the North-East Atlantic region under the OSPAR Convention. Danielle’s interest in the topic stems from her thirteen years of experience working as a marine environmental consultant both within Australia and internationally.

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