Issue: Environment - Human Pressures on the environment
This is an issue under the Australian Antarctic Territory theme of the Data Reporting System.
The potential for detrimental human impact on the Antarctic environment and on individual species is significant. It is therefore important that activities such as scientific, fishing and tourism activities are monitored as well as the impact of long range pollutants from outside Antarctica.
- AAT-17 Types and concentrations of long range pollutants from outside Antarctica reaching Antarctica
Long range pollutants from outside Antarctica can potentially have a significant and detrimental impact on the health of Antarctic ecosystems. Types and concentrations of pollutants reaching Antarctica will give some indication of the extent of this pressure.
- AAT-18 Annual tourist ship visits and tourist numbers
Increased tourism in Antarctica gives rise to various concerns, including the potential for direct and cumulative environmental impacts resulting from wildlife disturbance, pollution from increased shipping, and the possible introduction of exotic species or diseases. The indicator is a way of measuring the extent of the pressure.
- AAT-19 Annual catch in tonnes of marine species harvested in Australian Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters - legal and illegal
The ongoing health of Antarctic ecosystems and individual species requires that resources are used in a manner that does not exceed that which is sustainable in the long run. By examining both legal and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and comparing those catches to agreed catch limits, this indicator provides an indication of who sustainable the use of resources are.
- AAT-20 Fishing by-catch numbers and/or weight taken as bycatch
Each year thousands of seabirds and fish are accidentally killed on longline hooks and trawling lines (i.e. they are not the target species for the fishing operation). The level of by-catch that occurs in these fisheries is not sustainable for many populations of fish and especially for seabirds. Changes in the total numbers of other animals affected may be at least initially ambiguous: increases may reflect improved reporting, decreases a decline in wildlife species themselves, so that they are no longer available to accidentally catch or interact with. However, changes would be a reasonable indicator of reduced or increased pressure.
- AAT-21 Station and ship person days
Potential impact on the natural environment is often proportional to the human population. Human activities can cause disruption in physical, chemical and biological systems. This indicator reveals where the greatest direct pressures related to size of the human population.
- AAT-22 Wastewater - biological oxygen demand of wastewater discharged
This indicator is an estimate of the biological oxygen demand (BOD) of effluent discharged into the ocean from waste treatment plants at each continental station. BOD measurements are an indication of the efficiency of the treatment plants in destroying micro organisms being released into the ocean and thus minimising any adverse environmental impact.
- AAT-23 Annual fuel usage of generator sets and boilers
This indicator is a measure of the amount of fuel used in generator sets and boilers at the stations. The amount of fuel used contributes to environmental impact of human activities through emissions released.
- AAT-24 Annual incinerator fuel usage
This indicator is a measure of the amount of fuel used to incinerate waste at the stations. Each station has a high temperature incinerator that is used to incinerate kitchen waste and some packaging waste. The incinerator is only used when there is sufficient waste to warrant a burn. Over winter, this can be weekly. Over summer, this can be daily. The amount of fuel used for waste incineration contributes to environmental impact of human activities through emissions released.
- AAT-25 Annual total of fuel used by vehicles
The amount of fuel used in Antarctica for vehicles is proportional to environmental impact due to the emission and potential impacts associated with the footprint of human activities.
- AAT-26 Annual total potable water consumption
This indicator provides a proxy for the impact of human activity on the environment, not only in terms of water used but also in the energy required to 'produce' the water (e.g. filtration systems, desalinisation etc).
- AAT-27 Volume of runoffs and pollutants/emissions from stations
Local runoffs and pollutants/emissions from stations can potentially have a significant and detrimental impact on the health of Antarctic ecosystems. Volume of runoff is a direct measure of this pressure.
- CO-16 Status of Australian fisheries
Fishing places pressure on marine biodiversity, including Antarctic species. Status of fisheries is indicative of the status of species and ecological communities more generally, and therefore provides insight into this pressure.
- CO-17 Change in species and trophic structure of fish species caught
Change in trophic structure in commercially exploited Antarctic species could be indicative of significant ecological change, resulting from the pressures of fishing on marine biodiversity. Although any such change may not be entirely attributable to the impacts of fishing, fishing is the most probable cause of this kind of change because larger (and generally more predatory fish) are the most sought after in terms of food value and are also more vulnerable to modern netting techniques.
- CO-19 Estimated tonnage taken by illegal fishing; estimated number of illegal boats, estimated number of individuals of threatened species taken
All forms of fishing in Antarctic waters, including illegal fishing, place pressure on marine biodiversity. The suggested indicators, read collectively, would provide some baseline for estimating the contribution of illegal fishing to pressures on the condition of marine biodiversity, including Antarctic biodiversity.
- CO-21 Non-target effects: Number and/or weight taken as bycatch, and change since introduction of exclusion devices
Impacts of commercial fishing in Australia's Antarctic waters on Antarctic biodiversity include bycatch. Changes in the total numbers of other animals affected may be at least initially ambiguous: increases may reflect improved reporting, decreases a decline in wildlife species themselves, so that they are no longer available to accidentally catch or interact with. However, changes would be a reasonable indicator of reduced or increased pressure.
- Coasts and Oceans - Direct pressure of human activities on coasts and oceans - Pressure of fishing
- Biodiversity - Species, habitats and ecological communities - Conservation status of species and ecological communities
- Biodiversity - Species, habitats and ecological communities - Condition of marine biodiversity: Condition of fisheries
- Biodiversity - Pressures on biodiversity - Pressures on marine biodiversity: pressures of fishing
- Biodiversity - Utilisation and value of biodiversity - Harvesting and trade in wildlife