Call for Written Submissions:

South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands – Marine Protected Area 5-Year Review

(Download .docx version here. Submissions to dof (at) gov.gs. )

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands is commencing the first 5-year review of its Marine Protected Area (MPA). It is inviting written submissions from stakeholders to inform the review process.

Submissions should be submitted by close Thursday 31 August. They should be evidence-based and respond directly to the focus of the review:

  • To review, and assess the effectiveness of, existing monitoring measures for evaluating the extent to which the objectives of the sustainable use MPA are met;
  • To consider how scientific understanding of the South Georgia Maritime Zone has developed since 2013;
  • To contribute to priorities for future scientific research, including any new research and monitoring that may be necessary;
  • To provide any initial evidence-based assessment of the effectiveness of current management measures and advice on the degree to which evidence might support any revisions to management measures.

An ad-hoc advisory group will convene in November to undertake the review process and consider the submissions. Membership for the group is being invited from a representative range of stakeholder groups with interests in the Marine Protected Area. The group will be tasked to provide a report to Government by end – May 2018.

Submissions will be made publicly available on the Government’s website.


Background

The South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) sustainable use Marine Protected Area (MPA) was established in 2012. Its establishment reflected the Government’s commitment to the sustainable management of this UK Overseas Territory and its desire to protect and conserve the region’s rich and diverse marine life, whilst allowing sustainable and carefully regulated fisheries. It also directly contributes to the UK’s international commitments for the sustainable management of fish stocks and the conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems. Following the initial designation, additional protection measures were introduced in 2013. The Government committed to monitor activities throughout the MPA and to undertake a review every 5 years.

The review will assess progress towards achieving the objectives of the sustainable use MPA as set out in the MPA Management Plan. It will evaluate current data collection, research and monitoring programmes and contribute to priorities for future scientific research, including any new research and monitoring that may be necessary.

The objectives of the MPA are to:

  • conserve marine biodiversity, habitats and critical ecosystem function;
  • ensure that fisheries are managed sustainably, with minimal impact on associated and dependent ecosystems;
  • manage other human activities including shipping, tourism and scientific research to minimise impacts on the marine environment;
  • protect the benthic fauna from the destructive effects of bottom trawling;
  • facilitate recovery of previously over-exploited marine species;
  • increase the resilience of the marine environment to the effects of climate change;
  • prevent the introduction of non-native marine species.

The designation of the SGSSI MPA has relevance to the work of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) which has sought to achieve a representative system of MPAs in the Southern Ocean and designated, in 2009, the South Orkney Islands southern shelf as its first MPA. The SGSSI MPA was also a significant step towards the UK’s contribution to international commitments for the sustainable management of fish stocks and the conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems, with particular relevance to Aichi Targets 6 and 11[1]. The Aichi commitments are also reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Goals agreed in 2015.

The MPA enshrined in law much of the existing protection established under the fisheries management regime including the prohibition of all commercial bottom trawling and a ban on bottom fishing at depths less than 700 m. No-take zones were created around South Georgia, Clerke Rocks, Shag and Black Rocks and the South Sandwich Islands, totalling 20,431km2. Further temporal and spatial protection measures were implemented included a ban on bottom fishing deeper than 2,250 m, benthic closed areas in the depths fished for toothfish, a seasonal closure of the Antarctic krill fishery and a 12 nm pelagic closed area around the South Sandwich Islands.

More information on the MPA and its management can be found on this website here.

(01/08/17)


[1] Target 6

By 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem based approaches, so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits.

Target 11

By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.