Directed research. Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR). A program development plan
The US Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR) Program is a national program providing information needed for US policy regarding the conservation and management of the marine living resources in the ocean areas surrounding Antarctica. The program is in support of US participation in the Commission and Scientific Committee of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which established the system for managing the living resources of the Antarctic ecosystem through international cooperation. US participation is aimed at realization of the Convention’s objective relating to the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources.
The Antarctic Marine Living Resources Convention Act of 1984, P.L. 98-623, was signed into law by President Reagan on November 8, 1984, implementing the CCAMLR for the United States. Congress found that directed and basic research programs concerning the marine living resources of Antarctica are essential to achieving the US goal of effective implementation of the objectives under the CCAMLR.
Section 312 of the Act directs, among other things, that:
“(A) The Director of the National Science Foundation, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the heads of other appropriate departments and agencies of the United States, shall continue to support basic research investigations of the Antarctic marine ecosystem as part of the United States Antarctic Program;
(B) The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Director of the National Science Foundation, the Secretary of State and the heads of other appropriate Federal agencies, shall design and conduct a program of directed scientific research coordinated with the United States Antarctic Program.”
The US Program of directed research is defined by this Program Development Plan.
The presence of large fishing fleets has already contributed to the overexploitation of Antarctic fish stocks. In the 50 years between 1930 and 1980 the populations of blue, fin, sei, and humpback whales are estimated to have been reduced to 10% of their former abundance levels. The recovery of depleted whale stocks is dependent in part on the continued availability of krill in the rich Southern Ocean feeding grounds.
In cooperation with other government agencies and the private sector, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will develop and implement the AMLR Program, which emphasizes directed research undertaken for the express purpose of providing for the effective conservation of the marine living resources of the Antarctic ecosystem, the primary goal of the CCAMLR. The AMLR Program is intended as a US contribution to joint international research efforts which are being planned and undertaken by the member countries of the CCAMLR, in support of the objectives of the Convention.
The US AMLR Program is designed to complement the US Antarctic Research Program (USARP) of basic research managed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), with the goal of maximizing the productivity of the overall US science effort in Antarctica through close coordination in planning and cooperative work between the two programs, where appropriate.
The principal objective of the United States directed research program is to provide the information needed to detect, monitor and predict the effects of fishing and associated activities on target, dependent, and related species and populations of the Antarctic marine living resources and the ecosystem(s) of which they are a part. Studies in support of AMLR objectives include: (1) assessments of catch, effort, and related biological data to determine and monitor the effects of fishing on both target species and species taken as by-catch during commercial fishing operations; (2) biological surveys to validate the reliability of catch, effort, and related biological data provided by countries engaged in commercial operations in the Convention Area and to assess the effectiveness of conservation measures enacted or contemplated by the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources; (3) baseline surveys and periodic sampling to detect and monitor natural variation and possible harvest-caused changes in key components of the Antarctic marine ecosystem, including plankton, krill, fish, seals, whales, squid, and seabirds; and (4) planning and implementation of coordinated multinational research programs and experiments to test and develop standard survey techniques, improve knowledge of the structure and dynamics of the Antarctic marine ecosystem, and test hypotheses concerning the direct and indirect effects of different harvest levels and strategies.
The AMLR Program outline in this report projects the charter of a dedicated research vessel capable of operating in Antarctic waters for a period of 180 days each year.
Note: The full text of this paper was published under the above title by the US Department of Commerce in January, 1986.