The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is bound by its Article II, 3 to follow an ecosystem approach to management. This approach has been extended to the application of a precautionary approach in the late 1980’s. In our review we deal primarily with the science–related aspects of CCAMLR and its development towards an ecosystem approach to the management of the living resources of the Southern Ocean. To assist the Commission in meeting objectives, as set out in Article II, 3, the Scientific Committee established the CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring Program to detect possible effects of krill fishing on the performance of top level predators, such as albatrosses, penguins, petrels, fur seals. Fisheries in the Southern Ocean followed the fate of other fisheries worldwide in that target species were depleted to low level one after the other. Currently, two types of fisheries are open: the longline fisheries on Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) and Antarctic toothfish (D. mawsoni) and the trawl fisheries on mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari). Both fisheries are managed in a single species context, however, with conservation measures in place to protect by – catch species, such as rattails (Macrouridae) and skates and rays (Rajidae). Two major problems still exist in fisheries in the Southern Ocean: the by – catch of birds in longline fisheries primarily in the Indian Ocean and the high level of IUU fishing again in the Indian Ocean. Both, the by – catch of birds and high IUU catches undermine the credibility of CCAMLR to safeguard the marine living resources in the Southern Ocean.