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Publications archive - Annual reports

Disclaimer

Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Department of the Environment and Heritage Annual Report 2002-03

Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2003
ISSN 1441 9335

Review of performance - outcome three: Antarctica (continued)

Maintaining the Antarctic Treaty System and enhancing Australia's influence in it (Departmental output 3.1)

Objective

The AAD seeks to maintain the Antarctic Treaty System and enhance Australia's influence in it by having a strong presence at Antarctic Treaty System meetings, taking the lead on issues and developing initiatives for international consideration; complying with the requirements of the Antarctic Treaty System; and cooperating with Australia's Antarctic Treaty partners.

Result

Australia continued to provide leadership in the forums of the Antarctic Treaty System, including:

Antarctic Treaty and Committee for Environmental Protection

Australia met its obligations under the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty and played a leading role in the 2002 and 2003 annual Antarctic Treaty meetings and the associated meetings of the Committee for Environmental Protection. The Director of the AAD was elected chair of the committee at the September 2002 meeting for a period of two years and chaired the 2003 meeting.

Australia was influential in advancing the development of rules relating to liability for environmental damage. Australia's leading role in intersessional work and at the Treaty meetings saw significant progress in the long-term objective of establishing an Antarctic Treaty secretariat, expected to commence operation in June 2004.

Australia also took leading roles in a group reviewing measures, decisions and resolutions of previous Antarctic Treaty meetings, aimed at rationalising and making more accessible the suite of obligations; and intersessional contact groups to review comprehensive environmental evaluations (the Madrid Protocol's highest level of environmental impact assessment) for proposals from New Zealand and the Russian Federation. Meeting decisions were closely aligned to the outcomes recommended by Australia's reports.

Australia worked within the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs to develop practical advice to the Treaty parties on worst case environmental scenarios to assist negotiation of the environmental liability rules.

Australia was successful in having the issue of Antarctic tourism placed on the agenda of the 2002 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, and presented initiatives at the 2003 meeting to improve the management of tourist and non-governmental activities in Antarctica.

Australia was influential in the development of approaches to the review of Annex II to the Protocol on Environmental Protection, ensuring a substantial technical review process without opening up the annex or the protocol to renegotiation.

Revised management plans were adopted for Antarctic Specially Protected Areas adjacent to Casey and Davis stations, and a new Antarctic Specially Protected Area was agreed for the Frazier Islands, 16 kilometres offshore from Casey, to protect southern giant petrels. Australia presented a draft management plan for a proposed Antarctic Specially Managed Area, incorporating an Antarctic Specially Protected Area, for Mawson's Huts at Cape Denison.

The Australian Antarctic Data Centre ran a joint international workshop with New Zealand in Sydney for the Committee for Environmental Protection with the objective of providing a way forward for Antarctic State of the Environment reporting. A simple model was developed and was accepted by the committee, and a further joint committee chaired by Australia and New Zealand was established to advance the implementation.

Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

The AAD led Australian participation in negotiations at the 2003 meeting of CCAMLR and its related committees, including the scientific committee. AAD scientific research and proposals resulted in measures to enhance the ecological sustainability of the legal fisheries and measures to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

Australia continued to promote improved, scientifically based management approaches with notable gains in ensuring fishers gather the research data necessary for future management of exploratory fisheries for toothfish and to minimise bycatch from all fisheries.

AAD staff continued to play a leading role in CCAMLR's scientific committee and in subsidiary scientific working groups including the ecosystem monitoring and management and the fish stock assessment groups. CCAMLR's Ecosystem Monitoring Program will be reviewed in 2003 and AAD scientists are playing a major role in this process, including co-chairing the review steering committee.

AAD research directly contributed to the development of key conservation measures in CCAMLR, including for krill fisheries and exploratory finfish fisheries in the Antarctic, established fisheries for Patagonian toothfish and mackerel icefish around the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, and for minimising the fisheries' bycatch. The research directly influenced key elements of these measures, such as total allowable catch limits.

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research

AAD scientists played a major role in the international steering committees of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. These included steering committees on the ecology of the Antarctic sea ice zone and regional sensitivity of Antarctica to climate change, the Sub-committee on Bird Biology and the Working Group on Seals. AAD scientists are also involved in the Evolution and Biodiversity in Antarctica Scientific Program Planning Group, a major new venture.

The AAD hosts the database for the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research Map Catalogue, available on the AAD web site. The Australian Antarctic Data Centre built and hosts the committee's biodiversity database.

AAD scientists initiated and implemented the international collection, coordination and synthesis of sea ice thickness and sea ice core data as part of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research Antarctic Sea Ice Processes and Climate project. AAD scientists also took the lead in the revitalisation of the Ice Sheet Mass Balance project, a cooperative investigation of the current state and possible future direction of the mass of the Antarctic ice sheet.

AAD scientists made presentations at a symposium entitled The Antarctic Sea Ice Zone: Physical and Biological Processes and Interactions at the committee's meeting in Shanghai.

Other international research

AAD scientists played a leading role in the World Climate Research Program, including the International Program for Antarctic Buoys, the Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) project, the CliC Data Management and Information Panel and the Climate Variability and CliC Southern Ocean Panel. AAD glaciologists are on the executive of the Scientific Steering Group of CliC and made a major contribution to the initial implementation plan for the CliC project. AAD scientists played significant roles in the Scientific Committee on Oceanographic Research and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program's Southern Ocean project.

The 3rd International Contaminants and Freezing Ground Conference organised by the AAD in 2002 has been the basis for establishing research collaboration among Antarctic and Arctic researchers interested in the management and remediation of contaminated sites in cold regions.

Administration of Australian Antarctic Territory and Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands

The AAD administered the Australian Antarctic Territory and the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands in accordance with domestic legislation - Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; Antarctic Marine Living Resources Conservation Act 1981; Antarctic Mining Prohibition Act 1991; Antarctic Treaty Act 1960; Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980; Australian Antarctic Territory Acceptance Act 1933; Australian Antarctic Territory Act 1954; Heard and McDonald Islands Act 1953; Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act 1923 (in so far as it relates to the Territory of Heard Island and MacDonald Islands and the Australian Antarctic Territory) - and relevant international obligations, and to meet its domestic and international obligations under CCAMLR.

The Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve was declared in October 2002 under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The AAD has been delegated management responsibility from the Director of National Parks, and has commenced the development of a management plan for the marine reserve in accordance with the Act and the Heard Island Environmental Protection and Management Ordinance 1987. An independent quarantine risk assessment was commenced to advise on the risk of introducing non-native species to Heard Island.