Each day during the month of April, the Institute will feature one of the 30 ‘perspectives’ from the One Ocean report. These short articles include a diverse range of views regarding oceans management in New Zealand. Enjoy!


Barry Weeber, Co-Chair, Environment and Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa New Zealand (ECO) and Advisor, Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition

Marine management in the Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is principally managed by a unique series of agreements called the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). The Antarctic Treaty put on hold sovereignty claims, made the area nuclear free and demilitarised and enabled country cooperation. In 1998 the Antarctic Environmental Protocol designated the area ‘a nature reserve for peace and science’ and included a 50-plus-year moratorium on mineral activity.

The Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) introduced ecosystem-based management in 1981. The Protocol and CCAMLR both enable the establishment of marine protected areas (MPA). In 2009 CCAMLR designated the first MPA near the South Orkney Islands. Subsequent major proposals to protect part of the Ross Sea (promoted by New Zealand and the US) and East Antarctica (by Australia, France and the EU) have stalled for lack of consensus.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) governs complementary measures including marine pollution control. It has banned the use of heavy fuel oil and designated the Southern Ocean a special area, and it is developing a ‘polar code’ for vessels. Fishing vessels are yet to be fully covered, but negotiations for this are hoped to occur. The Torreliminos Agreement and the more recent Durban measures apply, but New Zealand has yet to ratify these.

New Zealand’s failure to ratify several IMO agreements cost taxpayers many millions when the MV Rena ran aground near Tauranga. The International Whaling Convention’s (IWC) Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary attempts to protect whales, but Japan has largely ignored such protective zoning, despite an International Court of Justice decision upholding protection.

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