Antarctica is surrounded by a vast, unbroken and dynamic body of water known as the Southern Ocean, which constitutes about 15% of the world's total ocean surface.
Antarctica's resources have been harvested for about 200 years. In many cases the intense level of exploitation resulted in the severe depletion of harvested stocks, as was the case for fur and elephant seals in the 19th century, and whales and finfish in the 20th century.
The resulting concern for the health of the Antarctic ecosystems and its extraordinary marine and terrestrial life has kept environmental issues at the forefront ever since the Antarctic Treaty was adopted.
Concerns raised in the mid -1970s that an increase in krill catches in the Southern Ocean could have a serious effect on populations of krill and other marine life; particularly on birds, seals and fish , which depend on krill for food lead to adoption of the Convention on the conservation of Antarctic Marine living Resources (CCAMLR).
The Convention came into force in 1982 and defines a Commission and a Scientific Committee to work together to manage marine living resources in the southern Oceans.
In 1991, the Protocol on environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed, which inter alia, establishes the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). [Entered into force on 14 January 1998]
In contrast to other multilateral fisheries conventions, CCAMLR is concerned not only with the regulation of fishing, but also has a mandate to conserve the ecosystem.
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