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15. The Antarctic Treaty System as a Resource Management Mechanism- Living Resources John A. Gulland INTRODUCTION In the Antarctic the living resources offer a complete contrast between marine and terrestrial systems. The Southern Ocean is rich with life--among which krill, whales, seals, and penguins are the best known. Historic visits to the Antarctic have been largely those of sealers, whalers, and fishermen engaged in harvesting these resources. The management problem is thus one of ensuring that this harvesting is carried out in a rational manner, with due regard to future interests in the resources. The Antarctic land mass is cold and barren and extremely hostile to life. What life there is, is probably vulnerable to disturbance through other human activities, such as research, tourism, and possibly in the future, extraction of minerals. The management problem is one of diminishing or minimizing such disturbance. The management problems of sea and land are therefore best discussed separately, with the exception of seal and penguin requirements for a firm base (land, or ice shelves) on which to breed. These essentially marine animals can be vulnerable to damage to, or disturbance at, these breeding sites, and mechanisms to prevent this are best discussed together with other aspects of terrestrial management. MARINE RESOURCES Background While the Antarctic Treaty applies to the area south of 60°S latitude, in considering the marine resources of the 221
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222 region it is better to look at the whole area south of the Antarctic convergence. The exact position of the convergence is variable but on average corresponds closely to the boundary of the area of responsibility of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources established by the 1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). South of the convergence, the current systems ensure a good supply of nutrients to the surface, and in the summer, primary production in parts of the region in the form of microscopic plants (phytoplankton) is among the highest in the world, with the exception of a few spectacular areas such as the upwelling zones off Peru and California. Further favorable factors from humanity's point of view are that the food chain is generally short, with two steps from phytoplankton to baleen whales via krill, and that most animals are long lived. This means that a relatively high proportion of the original primary pro- duction appears in a harvestable form, and the standing stock represents the accumulated production of several years (several decades in the case of the whales) and is therefore high. The waters of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic, despite being cold, rough, and far from civilization, have attracted sealers, whalers, and fishermen for the past two centuries. The use of these resources shows that unmanaged exploitation can be disastrous. By the end of the nineteenth century the fur and elephant seals and the right whales of the sub-Antarctic had been brought close to extinction; by the middle of this century the larger baleen whales (blue, fin, and humpback) had also been greatly reduced. Partly through the measures introduced by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the deple- tion of the baleen whales has been slightly less extreme than that of right whales or fur seals, but of the baleen whales only the mink e whale is now present in number S similar to those at the time when human visitors first came to the Southern Ocean. Exploitation is now focused on krill and demersal (bottom-living) fish. Several fish stocks seem already, as reported at the third meeting of the CCAMLR in September 1984, to be greatly reduced from their original level. Krill are so far probably little affected. Cur- rent catches, at approximately 500,000 tons per year, are still far less than potential yield. Estimates of this potential range from tens of millions of tons upward--
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223 comparable to the present total yield of all types of fish from the oceans of the world. The declines or collapses of seals, whales, and fish stocks are not unique to the Southern Ocean. virtually every commercially attractive, exploited fish stock has been allowed to decline below its most productive level. These declines have not often turned into catastrophic collapses largely because of two factors: the high pro- ductive capacity of most fish makes them less vulnerable than mammals to sustained over exploitation, and most fishing fleets can move to alternative resources when stocks and catch rates in one area begin to decline. The events in the Southern Ocean should therefore not be ascribed to some unusual degree of greed or short- sightedness on the part of the harvesters; they are the predictable results of unmanaged exploitation of a common-property, open-access resource. From the point of view of managing the marine resources of the Antarctic, three points can be made: (1) The resources are rich and have made, and could continue to make, a significant contribution to world food supplies. (2) Several important elements (fur and elephant seals and whales) of the marine ecosystem have already been greatly altered, and this has probably had effects on many other elements; that is, in the ocean we are not dealing 7 as is the case for the Antarctic land mass, with an undisturbed system. (3) If the resources are to be maintained in an optimum condition, management will be essential. The balance of this chapter will discuss the mechanisms required to provide the necessary management actions [including deciding on what is meant by "optimum con- dition" in (3) above] and then, with special reference to the purposes of the workshop on the Antarctic Treaty, examine the past, present, and potential future role of the Antarctic Treaty System in ensuring that these mechanisms are established and operate correctly. Mechanisms for Management The basic requirements for successful fishery management have been discussed on a number of occasions, notably by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's Advisory
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224 Committee on Marine Resources Research and its working parties. The need is not merely to have a mechanism to introduce management measures. Before such action and any decision on specific measures can be taken, it is necessary to have discussion and agreement on the objec- tives that the measures should achieve as well as adequate technical and scientific information on the immediate and long-term results of alternative management actions (including the possibility of doing nothing). The actions must then be followed by steps to ensure that the agreed measures are actually implemented and to review their success and, where necessary, revise them. At each stage, it is important that all those actually or potentially interested in the resource participate. In an open-access situation, such as the Antarctic, unless there is virtually unanimous agreement, few measures are likely to be effective. Any participant that does not abide by these, for example, by limiting total catch volume, or by avoiding catching small or immature animals, will gain nearly all the benefits of the management actions of others, but there will be little net conser- vation effect. Bitter experience has also shown that management measures, as well as being unanimous, should also be introduced as early as possible, before the indus- try builds up excess capacity; the aim should be to have to do little more than put the brakes on development as the optimum harvesting rate is approached rather than to have to cut back on overcapacity, with all the economic and social problems that this is likely to bring about. Unfortunately, the first criterion works against this: all the participants are likely to agree on the need to do something only after the need has become incontro- vertible, with the collapse or severe depletion of the resource. INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION How do events in the Antarctic fit in with these requirements? The fur seal and right whale stocks collapsed before there was any attempt at management, so few lessons can be learned from these experiences. Much more can be learned from the IWC: although the commission has suffered from several serious flaws, it must not be assumed that everything that the IWC has done is wrong. Indeed, when it was first established in 1946, the IWC was considered to be in the forefront of what would later become the environmental movement.
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225 The first flaw in the IWC to become apparent was the lack of good, quantitative information on what was happening to the stocks and what, in quantitative terms, would be the effect of different management measures (in particular, the effect of a reduction in the quota). Only when fishery scientists, who had long had a more quantitative approach, were brought in as members of the IWC's Committee of Three (later Four) Scientists, to advise the commission in the early 1960s, did the commis- sion have adequate information on which to base its policies. The blame for this--if it is fair to talk about blame with the benefit of many years of later experience--lies further back, with those who determined the level and direction of research in the Southern Ocean. It was particularly unfortunate that, after the government of the United Kingdom in 1925 had established the Discovery Committee to carry out research in the Southern Ocean in support of the whaling industry, no one ensured that quantitative studies of the dynamics of whale stocks and their reactions to exploitation were actually carried out. Scientific benefits, for example, in terms of knowledge of krill stocks, are still being reaped from this program. Other flaws that became apparent after the Committee of Four had made its report, and when it was clear that great reductions in quota were necessary, concerned the objectives of the commission and participation in its deliberations. From 1964 onward, once the commission was receiving clear scientific information on what needed doing, it had, until the mid-1970s, great difficulty and encountered considerable delays in acting on it. This was because the objectives of the whaling convention implied, or could be interpreted as implying, that considerable weight should be given to the economic interests of the whaling industry. This problem was compounded by the fact that the membership of the commission was largely confined to countries with active whaling industries, whose immediate economic interests were a major factor in determining national policies. This situation is now reversed, with many of the IWC member countries having no direct connection with whaling and the policies of some former whaling countries deter- mined largely by active environmental lobbies. The result is that the decisions of the commission tend to be as strongly weighted against any harvesting of whales as they previously were in favor of a volume of catches in excess of what the resource could sustain. There is, for
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226 example, as little scientific justification (assuming that the objective of the commission is to ensure rational . . use of the resource) for the currently recommended mora- tor~um on all minke whale catching as there was for the continuation of a total quota of 15,000-16,000 blue whale units around 1960. Events in the utilization and management of other Antarctic resources (krill, fish, and the seals of the ice shelf) have not proceeded so far as to facilitate a historical judgment of the management arrangements. Special mention should, however, be made of the 1972 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (Seals Convention). This convention was drafted at the initia- tive of the Antarctic Treaty powers at a time when there was no commercial harvesting of seals, although there was a possibility that such sealing might start. Since it recognized that commercial sealing was an intrinsically legitimate activity, if done in a responsible manner, it has sometimes been regarded as a pro-sealing convention. This is very far from being true. Those responsible for identifying the need for a convention were well aware of the dangers of uncontrolled harvesting and the need to set up proper controls early. For about the first time in history, the necessary framework to institute control was set up in advance of any commercial activity. The Seals Convention gives the interested countries rights and responsibilities to manage any sealing, and, in an annex, spells out specific controls (annual catch limits and a pattern of closed areas), which should ensure that any harvesting is well within the productive capacity of the stocks, pending more precise scientific analysis. The 1980 convention establishing CCAMLR was set up while the krill fishery was still growing, while catches were well below the likely level of the sustainable yield and before there was any evidence that the volume of fishing was affecting the stock. The taking of demersal fish around several of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands had reduced some of the stocks well below their unfished level, but there are some biological reasons for being less seriously concerned about such reductions in fish stocks than about similar reductions in mammals. The real concern that led to the establishment of CCAMLR was less for krill or fish in themselves than for the impact that a large-scale krill fishery might have on those species that feed on krill. Krill play a central part in the Southern Ocean ecosystem, being the most abundant herbivore and the major food of many of the
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227 larger animals, including baleen whales, penguins, and crabeater seals. There is a fear that if krill abundance were reduced by fishing, this could endanger the recovery of the depleted stocks of baleen whales. This probable interaction between krill fishing and the dynamics of whale populations illustrates two points that are becoming increasingly apparent in present-day resource management: that the objectives of management are complex and that, in order to achieve whatever objec- tive is decided on, quite detailed scientific research is likely to be needed. If the Southern Ocean were to be managed purely in order to maximize the supply of food from the region, it is probable that harvesting should be concentrated on krill (assuming that the technological and economic problems of catching, processing, and marketing of huge quantities of krill can be solved), allowing whale and seal stocks to decline. Against this, there are those who feel that no activities should be allowed that would prevent a rapid recovery of whale stocks to their original unexploited level. A more balanced and a more generally acceptable policy might be for a krill harvest at rather less than the maximum possible, sufficiently small to offer no threat to the survival of the whale populations, though probably not so small as to permit any harvesting of whales. Whatever objective is chosen, it is clear that those setting quotas or other appropriate measures for krill will need to know what the long-term effects are of different patterns of krill harvest on stocks of krill, whales, and other consumers. It is probable that the answer will depend not only on the gross magnitude of krill harvest but also on where and what sizes of krill are caught and on how closely these correspond to the location and sizes of krill eaten by whales. It may also depend on the detailed population dynamics and other aspects of the biology (feeding behavior, etc.) of both krill and whales. This sort of research cannot be done overnight, and effective management of the Southern Ocean as a complete ecosystem will have to be based on good, long-term multidisciplinary research. CCAMLR has avail- able to it a good scientific basis for starting its work, as a result of the research that has already been carried out by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and especially by its Biological Investigations of Marine Antarctic Systems and Stocks (BIOMASS) program.
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228 THE ROLE OF THE ANTARCTIC TREATY In the narrowest sense, the Antarctic Treaty has had very little direct impact on the management of marine re- sources. Article VI, which states that nothing in the treaty should prejudice the rights of any state with regard to the high seas, might seem to preclude such impact, except on seals or penguins, which can be har- vested when they come ashore. In this connection, one of the earliest actions under the Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora was to give special protection status to fur seals and to the Ross seal. It is also true that, while the responsibility under Article IX(l)(f) of the treaty for the "preservation and conservation of living resources in Antarctica" makes no distinction between terrestrial and aquatic resources, the initial focus of those concerned with the treaty was on terrestrial animals and plants and those aquatic animals that came to land, or the ice shelves, to breed. For example, the Agreed Measures explicitly discuss mammals (excluding whales), birds, and plants but make no mention of fish, krill, or other marine animals. Such a narrow interpretation would ignore the very significant contribution that the Antarctic Treaty mech- anism has made to managing marine resources in bringing into existence CCAMLR and the Seals Convention and in helping determine the content of the two conventions and the way in which CCAMLR is likely to operate. Though the conferences at which these conventions were finally signed took place outside the formal framework of the Antarctic Treaty, these final acts were the results of lengthy discussions and negotiations, many of which took place, formally or informally, during Antarctic Treaty consultative meetings. As remarked above, these conventions are notable for the fact that they were established wholly or largely before there was large-scale harvesting of the resources concerned and well before such harvesting began to have obviously harmful effects. Such public forethought is highly exceptional in the history of the utilization of national resources and owes much to the forethought and initiative of a few individuals in a number of the treaty countries. Such private forethought would, however, have been of little use if the Antarctic Treaty did not give it a framework in which it could be effective. Despite the
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229 initial lack of focus on marine resources, the treaty did give its signatory countries a joint interest and a responsibility for all the resources south of 60°S latitude. Because of the nature of the marine resources, for which the 60°S latitude has no special significance, this joint interest tended to extend northward to the natural boundary at the Antarctic convergence. Governments do not like taking action unless it is very clear that failing to take action will cause much more trouble than doing something. If the Antarctic Treaty had not existed, providing the framework, and, to a large extent, the political justification for the initial discussion, it is fairly certain that there would now be no sealing convention. It is also unlikely that negotiations over a more general "ecosystem management" convention corresponding to CCAMLR would have got much beyond the initial confrontations between those interested in conservation in the narrow sense of discouraging any exploitation and those interested in immediate exploita- tion with little concern for long-term interests. The potential for confrontation is well illustrated by the recent history of the IWC. Its problems were briefly mentioned earlier. They illustrate that a management body cannot work well unless there is a reasonable balance among different interests. In the IWC the balance has swung from undue dominance by short-term economic inter- ests to dominance by conservation interests (and to a large extent the more extreme conservation views). Unfortunately, the IWC conflicts have spilled over into wider discussions on the Antarctic marine ecosystem as a whole taking place under the CCAMLR, since the countries and some of the individual scientists who take part in these two forums are much the same. The conflicts in the IWC have reached the stage at which each side distrusts the objectives and scientific integrity of the other. In particular, those countries still whaling believe, not wholly without justification, that some of those attending meetings of the IWC are interested only in stopping all whaling, without much consideration of how this is done or whether it would be in accordance with the spirit and intention of the original convention. The whaling countries are largely the same countries as those interested in harvesting krill and fish in the Antarctic. They certainly would not have been prepared to consider a new commission that seemed to be nothing more than a repeat of the IWC, and probably it was only because of the existence of the Antarctic Treaty mech-
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230 anism, and in response to a treaty initiative, that those countries were prepared to consider actively a new conservation mechanism for Antarctic marine resources. The Antarctic Treaty states in Article IX(2) that while any state that is a member of the U.N. may accede to the treaty, participation in consultations is dependent on serious interest in the Antarctic, as demonstrated by substantial scientific research activity. The same prin- ciple is expressed in the CCAMLR, in which a qualifying interest for membership on the commission may be in terms of either research or harvesting activities [Article VII(g)]. While there are some good reasons for believing that any body with long-term responsibilities for con- servation should in principle be open to as wide a membership as possible, including states whose current interest in the resources is more potential than real, there are equally good reasons for believing that the extremely wide membership of, for example, the IWC is not always conducive to finding a constructive solution. It can be a very difficult problem when membership of an organization, whether of nations or of individuals, is open to all, without the qualification of a serious interest in the objective of the organization. While the founders of CCAMLR would probably have found a solution to this potential difficulty, the way was made much easier for them by the precedent of the Antarctic Treaty and the existence of the consultative powers as a "club" of countries with a proven and responsible interest in the Antarctic. In summary, therefore, the contributions of the Antarctic Treaty System to current actions to manage Antarctic marine resources have been very significant. Without the treaty, the different interests would never have got together to agree on a convention, and the treaty provided a model of the form of membership that should ensure a workable commission. Conservation inter- ests may well believe that the commission is working slowly, and the measures so far taken and contemplated (minimum mesh sizes to be used when trawling for fish and minimum fish sizes that can be landed) are more cosmetic than real. However, the commission is moving toward more effective measures and toward the collection of data that would enable these measures to be soundly based. This is clearly preferable to the only likely alternatives, which would be an absence of any commission, or a commission dominated by conservation interests but ignored by the fishing nations.
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231 TERRESTRIAL ACTIVITIES There is little interest in harvesting living resources on land. The exception is the possible harvesting of essentially marine animals when they come ashore to breed. This is a special aspect of the general question of the rational use of these resources, already discussed. Otherwise the conservation of living resources on land involves no serious conflict, and the task is one of ensuring that any activity carried out does not acciden- tally damage the resource. This task the Antarctic Treaty, through its Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora, has done well. Three broad types of control are used: those applying to all human activities and additional protections for certain species (Ross seal and fur seal) and for certain areas. The choice of appropriate measures, and the general agreement to be bound by them, has been helped by the fact that scientific activities, combined with tourism on a limited scale, have so far been the only activities on the Antarctic land mass. In both cases, those involved can be expected to have an above-average interest in and knowledge of the resources as well as an interest in their conservation. The general measures include the prohibition, unless a permit has been required, of the "killing, wounding, capturing, or molesting of any mammal or bird" (Article VI), the need to "take appropriate measures to minimize harmful interference" (Article VII), and the limitation under Article IX of the introduction of species that might upset the ecological balance. (In effect, only sledge dogs and laboratory animals can be introduced.) At the present scale of human activities, these general provisions are probably sufficient. They accept that nearly any activity must have some immediate impact on the ecosystem but that all ecosystems have some natural resilience; that is, if the impact is suffi- ciently small, it will be only temporary. Thus, when permits are given to kill animals as food, the numbers taken should be capable of being replaced in the follow- ing breeding season. There is, however, some belief that the Antarctic terrestrial ecosystem, at the limits of conditions under which life can exist, is less resilient than most others, including the Antarctic marine system, in which, for instance, the fur seal population at South Georgia has shown dramatic powers of recovery. There is
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232 little quantitative knowledge of the degree of resilience of the Antarctic terrestrial and inshore life, that is, how much disturbance different types of environments can withstand without permanent damage. Such knowledge, and the incorporation of this knowledge into quantitative regulations--such as the amount of waste that can be discharged into coastal waters and the number of visitors that can be allowed to a given site--may become more important if Antarctic activities increase. They would seem to be essential if industrial activities such as oil extraction ever became a practical possibility. In that case, the Agreed Measures could still be seen as important first steps. Controls for certain areas applied initially to the creation of Specially Protected Areas (SPAs), in which many activities, including driving vehicles, were pro- hibited. Some 17 SPAs have been designated and are given very effective protection. However, the strictness of the measures and especially the resultant difficulty in carrying out research in these areas have probably lessened the enthusiasm for designating SPAs. There has been in addition some feeling that the SPAs do not cover wide enough areas to achieve all the purposes that such areas could serve. These purposes were identified at the seventh consultative meeting, in 1972, at which it was concluded that SPAS should include inter alla representa- tive examples of the major Antarctic land and freshwater systems and undisturbed areas to be used for comparison with disturbed areas. The same meeting also made pro- vision for the creation of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), which are governed by less rigorous restrictions and are of a temporary rather than a permanent nature, although their designations may be extended. While there have been problems in achieving full and rigorous observance of all the Agreed Measures, most recently in the case of the proposed French airstrip in Adelie Land, the measures have in general been obeyed and have worked well. Even the exceptions seem to have involved no serious threat to the conservation of resources; they are important mainly in showing that no agreement will necessarily be obeyed unless there is some monitoring of compliance and that the Antarctic Treaty is no exception to this.
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233 THE ROLE OF SCAR No discussion of conservation in the Antarctic would be complete without a mention of the special role of SCAR. SCAR is formally an organ of the International Council of Scientific Unions, which comprises national academies of science, rather than governments. However, the qualifi- cations for national membership in SCAR are the same as those for consultative status under the Antarctic Treaty: substantial research interest in the Antarctic. Thus, the list of members of the two groups is very similar. This list forms what is often considered the Antarctic club, with the treaty being the political and SCAR the scientific arm. The achievements (or failings) of SCAR can be taken as reflecting in some way the merits (or demerits) of the treaty system. The immediate contribution of SCAR has been in provid- ing, or helping to provide, the scientific base for the three main substantive actions for conservation: the Agreed Measures under the Antarctic Treaty, the Seals Convention, and the CCAMLR. SCAR also carries out, until such time as the majority of the contracting parties to the Seals Convention establish their own scientific advisory committee, the functions of compilation and analysis of data relating to sealing and advising the contracting parties on these matters. In the long run, the most important function of SCAR is to provide the coordinating mechanism for the long- term fundamental studies that are essential to effective scientific management of any natural system. CCAMLR has its own scientific committee, and the boundaries between the two scientific groups are not at present clear. The CCAMLR committee may be expected to concentrate on the more immediate practical aspects, such as analysis of commercial catch and effort data, while SCAR concentrates more on less immediate issues, such as the physiology of krill. The latter may (or may not) turn out in the long run to be of direct practical significance to answering management questions. In the context of CCAMLR's ecosystem approach, the studies carried out by the BIOMASS program, coordinated by the SCAR Group of Specialists on Living Resources of the Southern Ocean, deserve special mention. These have looked especially at the structure of the Antarctic marine ecosystem and at the central role played in this system by krill. The BIOMASS program accomplished a number of studies that could have been carried out under
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234 the auspices of the CCAMLR institutions. Nevertheless, there are various data requirements under the CCAMLR that could not be met by BIOMASS. Other SCAR groups, especially the Working Group on Biology in relation to the Agreed Measures, and the Group of Specialists on Seals in relation to the Seals Conven- tion, have played, and continue to play, important roles in conserving Antarctic living resources, both marine and terrestrial.
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