The Antarctic Treaty System provides special protection for the Antarctic environment. This protection of very sensitive areas both on shore and in the ocean is provided under the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty and the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CAMLR-Convention).
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Although the Antarctic Treaty and the Protocol on Environmental Protection protects Antarctica under international law, the Treaty territory also has specially designated protected areas onshore and in the ocean.
Annex V of the Environment Protocol specifically regulates the protection and management of areas in Antarctica. Areas of outstanding environmental, scientific, historic, or aesthetic value – also in respect of Antarctica’s nativeness – can be declared Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPA). There are also areas in which there is already some activity, for example where several scientific stations are located at relatively close distance to one another. Such areas can be designated as an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA) to assist in planning and coordination of activities and to minimise environmental impacts. Furthermore sites or monuments of outstanding historic value can be awarded the status of Historic Sites and Monuments - HSM). These HSM may be located within Specially Protected or Specially Managed Areas. For more information and background go to the Protection and Management of Areas Governed by the Environment Protocol webpage.
Special Marine Protected Areas
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a common instrument used worldwide to grant special protection to selected marine areas and slow the ever increasing destruction of marine ecosystems. Fishing in MPAs is either subject to strict regulation or prohibited.
On the embodiment of marine protected areas the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) writes: "an area of sea possessing some outstanding or representative ecosystems, geological or physiological features and/or species, available primarily for scientific research and/or environmental monitoring."
At the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 the international community agreed to establish a representative worldwide network of marine protected areas by 2012. This goal was confirmed by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD,) and integrated into the CBD's work programme. The 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was held in Nagoya in 2010, adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, which includes the objective of conserving at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas through ecologically representative and networked systems of marine protected areas. Currently, only about 2 per cent of the world's marine waters are designated as MPAs.
Besides ASMAs and ASPAs which may include marine areas in the territory governed by the Antarctic Treaty, other additional marine protected areas may be designated or declared ASPAs. The latter is only possible in cooperation with the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). For more detailed information go to the Protected Areas Governed by CCAMLR webpage.
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