New Zealand Yearbook of International Law
The New Zealand Government’s adoption in March 2006 of a strategy for the future management of the marine living resources and biodiversity of the Ross Sea (“Ross Sea Strategy”) was a significant step forward in the development of New Zealand Antarctic policy. The need for a strategy was driven by New Zealand’s strategic interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and its commitment to protecting the Antarctic environment. The adoption of the strategy followed a fact-finding visit by senior New Zealand officials to Scott Base in November 2003 and public consultations through the middle of 2005 which brought forward more than 40 submissions including those from non-governmental organisations, scientists and the fishing industry.
The strategy defines the key outcomes sought by New Zealand in the Ross Sea. As an overall outcome New Zealand seeks a balance between well managed sustainable harvesting, in accordance with the principles of conservation found in the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), and marine protection that safeguards the long-term ecological viability of marine systems and protects Antarctic marine biological diversity and areas vulnerable to human impacts.
Key components for delivering on the strategy include New Zealand increasing its contribution to marine research and ecosystem monitoring in the Ross Sea; improving CCAMLR’s fisheries management; promoting the establishment of marine protected areas; combating illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in the Southern Ocean and the Ross Sea; and, strengthening the Antarctic Treaty System by reinforcing the role of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties in providing political direction throughout the Treaty System.
The Government also agreed New Zealand should continue to advocate for conservative and precautionary catch levels in the Ross Sea under the existing ‘exploratory’ toothfish fishery framework until such time as CCAMLR’s Scientific Committee agree that sufficient information is available to recommend changing its classification.
Following on from the adoption of the strategy, the New Zealand delegation to the 29th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) held in Edinburgh from 12 to 23 June 2006 submitted a working paper entitled CCAMLR in the Antarctic Treaty System (WP 14). The paper noted that the CCAMLR Convention formed an integral part of the Antarctic Treaty System and recalled the prime responsibilities of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties for the protection and preservation of the Antarctic environment. It questioned whether the current level of engagement between the ATCM and the CCAMLR Commission was adequate.
New Zealand also argued that the Consultative Parties’ responsibilities for the protection and preservation of the environment of the Antarctic Treaty area required them to provide guidance to the Commission on important matters related to the protection of the environment and to matters having wider implications for the Treaty System.
The New Zealand paper engendered a lively debate in which the majority of Consultative Parties participated. Many shared the views expressed although some were at pains to point out that the CCAMLR Commission was not in any way subsidiary to the ATCM and that its decisions could not be overturned by the ATCM.
At the conclusion of the item a draft resolution was adopted (Resolution 1 (2006)) which recommended that the Consultative Parties regularly at the ATCMs reflect upon the contribution made by the CCAMLR Commission to the Antarctic Treaty System, including in respect of the conservation and protection of the Antarctic environment. The resolution also encouraged increased cooperation at the practical level between the ATCM and the CCAMLR Commission.
In keeping with the resolution, New Zealand and other Consultative Parties envisage taking up matters at the annual ATCMs related to the protection of the Antarctic marine environment including IUU fishing and the development of protected marine areas on the high seas in the Antarctic Treaty area.
[∗] Head, Antarctic Policy Unit, NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
 Information on the Ross Sea Strategy is available online: NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ‘Antarctica - Ross Sea Strategy: Looking for a Long-Term Framework for Management of Marine Living Resources and Biodiversity’, <http://www.mfat.govt.nz/ Foreign-Relations/1-Global-Issues/Antarctica/Ross-Sea-Strategy/0-rossstratoutcom.php> (last accessed on 13 April 2007).
 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, opened for signature 5 May 1980, 19 ILM 837 (entered into force 7 April 1982).
 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting 2006, ‘CCAMLR in the Antarctic Treaty System: Working Paper 14’, online: <http://www.ats.aq/Atcm/atcm29/wp/atcm29_wp014_e.doc> (last accessed on 13 April 2007).
 Full text of Resolution 1 (2006) available online: Antarctic Treaty Secretariat homepage: <http://www.ats.aq/> (last accessed on 13 April 2007).