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Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)

Antarctica. Photo courtesy of Sharron Cottrell, LINZ, 2008
The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources is an instrument of the Antarctic Treaty System and was concluded in Canberra in 1980. New Zealand was one of the original signatories. The Convention came into force in 1982 and applies to the marine living resources south of 60° south latitude and the area between that latitude and the Antarctic Convergence. For the purposes of the Convention, the term “conservation” includes rational use. The Convention is implemented in New Zealand law by the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Act (1981).

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)

The 1981 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources established a Commission which is known as CCAMLR. New Zealand is a founding Member. The Commission's responsibility is to manage and protect marine living resources south of the Antarctic convergence, ranging from latitude 45 degrees south in the Indian Ocean to 60 degrees south in the Pacific sector.

Ross Sea Exploratory Toothfish (Dissostichus spp.) Fisheries


Dissostichus spp. Image courtesy of Antarctica New Zealand, 2008
Dissostichus spp.


Harvesting in the Convention Area, including the Ross Sea, must comply with CCAMLR's conservation principles including:

New Zealand vessels have participated in CCAMLR exploratory fisheries for toothfish (Dissotichus spp.) since 1997.

New Zealand Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR)Permits

The Minister of Foreign Affairs is responsible for Antarctica and for New Zealand’s participation in the Antarctic Treaty System of which CCAMLR is an integral part.

Under the Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR) Act (1981) the Minister of Fisheries is the Minister responsible for granting permits to take marine organisms in the Convention Area, and must have regard to the objectives and principles of the Convention.

The extent of New Zealand’s participation in CCAMLR fisheries is determined each year at the annual CAMLR Commission meeting. New Zealand can authorise fishing at the level the Commission agrees. To fish in the CCAMLR Area, New Zealand flagged vessels must obtain an AMLR permit from the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries.

All New Zealand participants in CCAMLR fisheries must also hold a high seas fishing permit issued under the Fisheries Act 1996.

CCAMLR Catch Documentation Scheme

Since 2000 CCAMLR has operated a toothfish Catch Documentation Scheme which is binding on all Contracting Parties.

It is an origin certification system designed to track landings and trade flows of toothfish caught in the CCAMLR Area (and where possible, in adjacent waters). Each catch or shipment of toothfish must have a valid catch document that shows compliance with CCAMLR Conservation Measures.

All landings, imports and exports of toothfish to or from New Zealand must be accompanied by a valid catch document.

Please contact the Ministry for Primary Industries [external link] with any enquiries about the catch documentation scheme.

Surveillance in the Southern Ocean

As a CCAMLR Member, New Zealand has a responsibility to carry out surveillance against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the CCAMLR Area, and to monitor licensed vessels’ compliance with CCAMLR Conservation Measures.

IUU fishing is broadly defined as fishing activities carried out in contravention of CCAMLR’s conservation and management rules. It is a serious problem in the Southern Ocean. It damages fish stocks and the marine ecosystem and contributes to the death of many marine mammals and seabirds through destructive fishing techniques and the absence of by-catch mitigation measures.

In support of the CCAMLR System of Inspection New Zealand designates inspectors and carries out regular maritime patrols in the Southern Ocean, in particular in the  Ross Sea  under “Operation Mawsoni”. Since 2011/12 New Zealand’s maritime surveillance capability has been enhanced by two Offshore Patrol Vessels. 


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Page last updated: Monday, 15 October 2012 15:05 NZDT