Last Chance. Antarctic and Southern Ocean Strategy

By admin on Aug 11 in Local news, SAPFIA news.

Source: Fishing Industry News SA


The document has been about three years in the making before it was ready to be published in its current provisional state. During this time there has been a change in Minister and portfolio.

Following Cabinet approval in March 2020, the next step was to wait for the Socio-economic impact assessment and quality assurance sign- off form (preliminary) from the Presidency. Dated 24 June 2020, this was followed up by adverts in national newspapers in July and a public notice in the Government Gazette on 24 July.

As a reminder, this week Minister Barbara Creecy of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, tweeted that she is inviting public comment.

National interests

The Draft Antarctic and Southern Ocean Strategy outlines #SouthAfrica’s strategic national interests, and articulates a national vision for engagement in #Antarctica region and Southern Oceans.

It also describes specific national strategic objectives. The national interests include:

  • Custodial responsibility to ensure the treaty is functional
  • That Antarctica and the Southern Ocean play a pivotal role in the weather and climate patterns worldwide
  • South Africa is a gateway to Antarctica. It should therefore optimise use of the country’s geographic positioning and proximity to the Antarctic to serve as a vibrant Antarctic sector that serves economic interests
  • Scientific endeavour and environmental management and the Southern Ocean are special outdoor laboratories. Students use these to study and understand natural processes. They also present opportunities to study / research pressing questions in the field of health
  • Agriculture (extremophiles), oceanographic, drought (i.e. glaciology) and geological sciences.

The Strategy contributes to #ClimateAction under #sustainabledevelopmentgoals 13, 14 & 17 as well as #Vision2030 of National Development Plan, for #SouthAfrica’s transition to #environmentallysustainable, climate change resilient economy and society.

Historical context

The #strategy illustrates key aspects of #SouthAfrica’s context in relation to #Antarctica complex. Historical context deals with extent of country investment in SANAP. To this day South Africa is the only #African country active in #Antarctica.

Twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, including South Africa. It’s applicable to the land and marine area south of 60 deg S latitude. The Prince Edward Islands (PEIs), consisting of Marion and Prince Edward island, is a South African territory.

In 1961 the Treaty entered into force. Many other nations have since acceded. The country membership represents most of the continents, dominated by Europe, Asia and South America.

Many have defined or redefined their strategic interest within the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). This complex of arrangements is for the purpose of coordinating relations among states with respect to Antarctica and Southern Ocean.

Included are:

  • Antarctic Treaty
  • Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty,
  • Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (CCAS)
  • Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
  • Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP)
  • Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

They have also expanded their footprint by establishing more research bases throughout strategic areas on the continent.

Purpose of Treaty

The Antarctic Treaty’s primary purpose is to promote peace in the region.

It prohibits anything of a military nature unless it is for scientific research purposes. This includes nuclear explosions and the disposal of radioactive waste material.

Primarily the Treaty provides for freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and promotes international cooperation. It encourages cooperative working relations and the exchange of information with any organisation having a scientific or technical interest in Antarctica.

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South Africa is fully committed to the Antarctic Treaty.

The country supports the prohibition by Article IV of asserting existing or new claims to territorial sovereignty.

The comment period is 60 days, expiring on 21 September 2020. However early submission of comments in encouraged to help the process go back to Cabinet to be completed in the current financial year.

For  more information you can download the documents at

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