The Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is an important international organization that conserves the species living in the Southern Ocean south of the 60 degrees South latitude. The Commission was created by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, an international treaty that has been ratified by 25 Members who have decision making authority.

An additional nine countries have acceded to the Convention but do not have decision making power. The Convention came into force in 1982 and was revolutionary at the time, as it enshrined conservation as its primary goal, and mandated a precautionary, ecosystem-based approach to management of fishing activities in the Southern Ocean.

These provisions were partially motivated by concerns over the rising catches of krill, upon which much of the Antarctic food webs depend for survival. Although krill are numerous, their importance to the ecosystem is such that the consequences of overfishing would be ecologically disastrous.

As with the Antarctic Treaty and Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings, CCAMLR meets every year to discuss issues under the Convention's purview and make decisions on matters such as total allowable catches (TACs), closing and opening fisheries, and the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs). ASOC attends these meetings as an observer. Our current priorities for CCAMLR include:

Establishing a network of marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean by 2012, with a large-scale MPA for the Ross Sea, the world's most intact ocean ecosystem.

Distributing the krill catch to ensure that krill fishing does not compete with krill predators such as penguins, whales, and seals;

Instituting strict port state compliance measures to deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Southern Ocean; and

Encouraging CCAMLR Members to study the impact of climate change on Antarctic marine species.

Read our papers and press releases about CCAMLR below.