Antarctic Peninsula MPA

The Antarctic Peninsula is a polar paradise: a bountiful feeding ground for Antarctic wildlife, a magnet for nature-loving tourists, and a growing focus for Antarctic krill fisheries.

Join us in our quest to take the pressure off and protect the Peninsula.

Adelie penguins
Adélie penguins
humpback whale
Humpback whale
Antarctic fur seal pups
crabeater seals on iceberg
Crabeater seals on ice
Gentoo penguin

Welcome to the Antarctic Peninsula


Drawing an arc from deep within the Antarctic Circle towards South America, the Antarctic Peninsula is the most accessible part of the southern continent.

Widely recognized as one of the most abundant, productive parts of the Southern Ocean, this vibrant region is teeming with life. 

Each summer whales migrate to their Antarctic feeding grounds, traveling peacefully through ice-strewn harbors and feasting on abundant krill. Seals haul out on ice floes to rest in the warm sun, and penguins flock to rocky beaches, making the most of the short summer in a frenzy of nesting, breeding, feeding and molting.

The abundance and accessibility of the Antarctic Peninsula also attracts humans, with tourists, fishing vessels and scientists visiting the region in growing numbers. 

Krill Swarm by Jamie Hall
Krill Swarm by Jamie Hall

Antarctica’s superfood


Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is the linchpin of the Antarctic food web, and is central to the explosion of life that happens here each summer.

Antarctic krill is a small crustacean no longer than your thumb. It is also one of the most abundant species on the planet, and up to 70% of its population lives off the west and northern Antarctic Peninsula. 

Krill is a primary food source for many seal species including fur, crabeater, Weddell and elephant seals. It also feeds migratory whales, and approximately 1.5 million pairs of Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins that nest, breed and forage off the Antarctic Peninsula coast. 

Current research suggests that Antarctic krill populations may be changing, with harmful impacts on penguin populations and the broader ecosystem.

“We have seen multiple breeding failures for Adélie penguin colonies, habitat loss throughout the region, a concentrated krill fishing effort, and the warmest Southern Ocean temperatures ever recorded. Scientists have been clear that MPAs are needed to make a warming and acidifying ocean more resilient.”

Andrea Kavanagh, Director of Antarctic and Southern Ocean work at The Pew Charitable Trusts
Map of Antarctic Peninsula MPA_ The Pew Charitable Trusts
Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts

What’s happening?


The Antarctic Peninsula is widely recognized as one of the most biologically rich, vulnerable regions of Antarctica. Despite this, the waters off the Antarctic Peninsula are not fully protected. 

In 2018, Chile and Argentina presented a proposal for an Antarctic Peninsula marine protected area (MPA). With protected zones extending from the South Scotia Arc near the South Orkney Islands, down the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula to the Bellingshausen Sea, the proposed protected area covers 250,000 square miles (670,000 square kilometers) of highly vulnerable marine ecosystems. 

The proposed MPA would stand for 70 years with a review each decade, to preserve ecosystems by allowing zone borders to be adjusted in light of observed changes.

Marine Protections_The Pew Charitables Trust
Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts

What is permitted in the MPA?


The proposed MPA is divided into two zones: a General Protection Zone and a Krill Fishing Zone. 

In the General Protection Zone, krill fishing will be prohibited within the coastal foraging ranges of nesting and breeding animals. This will allow Antarctic seals, penguins and other predators to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate without the additional pressure of krill fisheries depleting their primary food source. 

In the Krill Fishing Zone, CCAMLR Member nations will be permitted to fish for krill in accordance with CCAMLR conservation measures. 

The proposed MPA will protect important foraging areas for beloved Antarctic predators such as seals, penguins and whales, as well as essential habitat for Antarctic krill, fish and other ecologically significant marine creatures.


Why it’s important

The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming places in the Southern Hemisphere. As the ocean heats up and sea ice declines, impacts are being felt across the entire ecosystem.


Read more

Antarctic surface temperature trends for 1957-2006

Read more

Antarctic krill

Read more

Rally for Antarctica, May 2022. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. Photo: Saskia Uppenkamp.
Rally for Antarctica, May 2022. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. Photo: Saskia Uppenkamp.

Now is the time


The evidence is clear. Marine protected areas are scientifically proven to be the most effective way to limit the damaging impacts of human activities and support a vibrant, healthy ocean. 

ASOC strongly believes that CCAMLR, the international body charged with designating MPAs, has failed to act decisively for too long. 

Rally for Antarctica, May 2022. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. Photo: Saskia Uppenkamp.
Rally for Antarctica, May 2022. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. Photo: Saskia Uppenkamp.

What ASOC is doing


We work for Antarctic marine protection by:

Representing the Antarctic conservation community at the highest levels of Antarctic governance.

Presenting timely, science-based policy proposals at CCAMLR meetings to support decision-making based on the best available science.

Advocating for policies that reduce the stress on Antarctic ecosystems from human activities such as fishing, tourism, and scientific research.

Raising the profile of Antarctic conservation issues, ensuring that they remain on the agenda across international governance systems. 

“Since 1979, sea-ice duration [on the Antarctic Peninsula] has decreased by 85 days annually. We are running out of time to implement meaningful conservation. We need to establish strong marine management to give nature the space it needs to thrive. Governments need to step up and deliver on their commitments to protect the Antarctic.”

Chris Johnson, WWF Global Whale Conservation Lead

What you can do


Now is the time to call on CCAMLR to make good on its commitment to establish a network of Antarctic marine protected areas. Join us as we help secure a resilient future for Antarctica and the global ocean today.

Rally for Antarctica, May 2022. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. Photo: Saskia Uppenkamp.
Rally for Antarctica, May 2022. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. Photo: Saskia Uppenkamp.
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