Science is fundamental to CCAMLR. The Convention itself was born out of the concern of scientists that, following unsustainable harvesting of fish in the sub-Antarctic during the late 1960s and mid-1970s, the emergence of interest in the large-scale exploitation of Antarctic krill may have drastic ecosystem consequences.
In 1975, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties (ATCPs) noted the need to focus attention on scientific study as an essential basis for protection and rational use of Antarctic marine living resources. In response to a request from the ATCPs, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) undertook the Biological Investigation of Marine Antarctic Systems and Stocks (BIOMASS) program in 1977 to ‘gain a deeper understanding of the structure and dynamic functioning of the Antarctic marine ecosystem as a basis for the future management of potential living resources’. The scientific outcomes of the BIOMASS program laid the foundation for the primary role of science in the CAMLR Convention and its use by the Commission in achieving its objectives.
The main route for scientific advice in CCAMLR is through the Scientific Committee and its subsidiary groups. The Convention requires the Commission to take ‘full account of the recommendations and advice of the Scientific Committee’ and this emphasis on science was reiterated in 2009 in Résolution 31/XXVIII on the use of the best available science.