Joint Media Release: Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

2 November 2019

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
Senator The Hon Jonathon Duniam, Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries

The 26 member Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has improved environmental protections by prohibiting the discharge of plastics into the sea and expanding restrictions on the dumping and discharge of oil or fuel to the whole Convention Area.

The conference finished in Hobart this evening having agreed a number of important initiatives and noting that 2019 had seen the third lowest seabird mortality rate on record as incidental bycatch from fishing, and the near-elimination of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the CCAMLR Area.

Australia had sought to have a million square kilometres of East Antarctica declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA) at the Conference to conserve the area’s distinctive deep-water reefs and feeding areas for marine mammals.

The Commission stopped short of declaring the MPA at this time but Australia and the European Union and its Member States gained widespread support for the proposal and for an ongoing efforts.

The 10 day conference negotiations saw Australian Antarctic Division scientist Dr Dirk Welsford endorsed as Chair of the Scientific Committee, the most senior elected role in CCAMLR.

The Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said there were some good outcomes for Australian fisheries.

“The Commission endorsed Australia’s strong management and scientific approach to the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery by endorsing the Patagonian toothfish allowable catch limit,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“This is one of Australia’s most significant fisheries, worth close to $100 million per annum, and this is a good result for our industry.”

The Commission also:

  • Approved a General Capacity Building Fund to support nations in meeting their obligations under the CAMLR Convention. Australia has contributed to this Fund.
  • Strengthened its notification system for transhipment operations, which will now require that Contracting Parties confirm or update the details of any transhipments within the Convention Area after they occur.
  • Approved a critical work plan for krill fisheries management, along with supporting funds for its implementation, by the Commission.
  • Removed disincentives for operators to upgrade their fishing vessels to those with world class seabird mitigation standards.