Marine Protected Areas: overview
CCAMLR recognises that the term Marine Protected Area (MPA) does not have a single definition, but in general terms, an MPA is a marine area that provides protection for all or part of the natural resources it contains. Within an MPA certain activities are limited, or entirely prohibited, to meet specific conservation, habitat protection, ecosystem monitoring or fisheries management objectives.
MPAs do not necessarily exclude fishing, research or other human activities; in fact, many MPAs are multi-purpose areas. MPAs in which no fishing is allowed are often referred to as 'no-take areas'. Other uses may still be permitted.
MPAs have been used for different purposes in marine management programs worldwide since the early 20th century. In 2008 there were more than 5 000 MPAs worldwide protecting some 5.9% of national waters and about 0.5% of high-seas areas.
A decision was made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to achieve a representative network of MPAs by 2012.
Rationale for implementing MPAs
MPAs aim to provide protection to marine species, biodiversity, habitat, foraging and nursery areas, as well as to preserve historical and cultural sites. MPAs can assist in rebuilding fish stocks, supporting ecosystem processes, monitoring ecosystem change and sustaining biological diversity.
Areas closed to fishing (or in which fishing activities are restricted) can be used by scientists to compare to areas that are open to fishing to research the relative impacts of fishing and other changes, such as those arising from climate change. This can help scientists understand the range of variables affecting the overall status and health of marine ecosystems.
CCAMLR's approach to proposing and establishing MPAs
The CAMLR Convention provides the overarching basis for marine resource conservation in the Southern Ocean.
At the 2002 WSSD many world leaders committed to the target of establishing marine protected areas based on science and international law by 2012. In 2004 the Convention on Biological Diversity responded to the 2002 commitment by requesting all parties to establish planned and connected MPAs.
CCAMLR includes MPAs as one part of its approach to marine spatial protection to complement a variety of management tools such as fishing limits and gear restrictions. In paragraph 7.16 of the CCAMLR-XXVII Report (827.87 KB) (2008), the Commission recognised that a range of tools exist for implementing spatial management measures aimed at facilitating conservation of marine biodiversity. In addition, the Commission agreed that MPAs have a variety of forms and that the precise level of protection afforded to any specific area depends on the characteristics and qualities that require protection. Therefore, it agreed that it is important to develop a clear process for implementing MPAs concurrent with the ongoing scientific process which identifies where such areas should be located. This should allow the Commission to fully utilise all the tools at its disposal and so implement a representative system of MPAs.
In 2011 CCAMLR adopted Conservation Measure 91-04 (CM 91-04) 'General framework for the establishment of CCAMLR Marine Protected Areas' in accordance with Article IX of the Convention to provide a framework for the establishment of CCAMLR MPAs. CM 91-04 states that CCAMLR MPAs shall be established on the basis of the best available scientific evidence and shall contribute, taking full consideration of Article II of the CAMLR Convention where conservation includes rational use, to the achievement of the objectives specified (CM 91-04).
In 2009, CCAMLR established the world’s first high-seas MPA, the South Orkney Islands southern shelf MPA, a region covering 94 000 km2 in the south Atlantic.
The history of MPA discussions at CCAMLR, leading to the establishment of the South Orkney Islands southern shelf MPA in 2009, goes back to the early 2000s.
CCAMLR’s approach to marine spatial protection complements Antarctic Specially Managed Areas (ASMA) and Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPA) established by the Parties to the Antarctic Treaty. In addition, large marine reserves have been established within the CAMLR Convention Area in areas within national jurisdiction (HIMI, South Georgia, Prince Edward and Marion Islands). Work to consider the establishment of MPAs in nine planning domains in the CAMLR Convention Area is ongoing.
Another particular form of marine spatial protection used by CCAMLR concerns the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs).
The CAMLR Convention Area is divided into nine MPA planning domains. These were defined during the 2011 CCAMLR workshop on marine protected areas (SC-CAMLR-XXX, Annex 6).
The division into these domains provides a mechanism by which to plan and report on the development of MPAs and as a means to organise future activities related to this effort.. The planning domains are intended to reflect the scale and location of current and planned research efforts in order to be helpful as reporting and auditing units. The boundaries of the planning domains are not boundaries of proposed MPAs and are not intended to confine or restrict research or other work to develop MPAs.
- Domain 1: Western Peninsula – South Scotia Arc
- Domain 2: North Scotia Arc
- Domain 3: Weddell Sea
- Domain 4: Bouvet Maud
- Domain 5: Crozet – del Cano
- Domain 6: Kerguelen Plateau
- Domain 7: Eastern Antarctica
- Domain 8: Ross Sea
- Domain 9: Amundsen – Bellingshausen
A map of the CAMLR Convention Area, onto which a layer of MPA planning domains can be applied, can be accessed via the Online GIS.
There has been extensive discussion of MPAs in the Scientific Committee and the Commission in recent years. These discussions are very difficult to summarise, however, all of the meeting reports of the Scientific Committee and the Commission are publicly available. The discussions in the Scientific Committee, focussed on the planning domains, are usually in section 5 of its report. For examples see the discussions from 2012 in the SC-CAMLR-XXXI Report (2.73 MB), paragraphs 5.21 to 5.30 and from 2014 in the SC-CAMLR-XXXIII Report (5.01 MB), paragraphs 5.11 to 5.45.