Many people are, understandably, not familiar with Antarctica’s unusual governance structure. So I often simply say, “We work to save penguins.” People get that right away – everyone loves penguins! Unfortunately, penguins face other, larger threats, as well. Whether it’s increasing pressure to fish for krill (a primary food source) or the growing impact of climate change, penguins are no longer safe from the effects of human activities. That’s why ASOC exists – to make sure that governments take proactive steps to protect penguins and all Antarctic species from harm.
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are not only unique biologically and geographically, but also in how they are governed and protected. Antarctica is a continent without countries, without native human populations, and entirely devoted to research thanks to the Antarctic Treaty.
The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition is the only environmental observer in annual Antarctic Treaty meetings. This organization speaks for Antarctica on behalf of the entire world and speaks to the global conservation community about what decisions are being made in this area.
In some ways, the ASOC is the voice of Antarctica and the surrounding Southern Ocean, an incredibly important part of the planet for our ocean and its biodiversity. For this, we owe the ASOC a huge thank you!
The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is one of the most pristine places on Earth. Home to nearly 10,000 unique and diverse species, it remains largely unaffected by human activity.
One of ASOC’s main goals is the creation of the world’s largest network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean, starting in East Antarctica, the Weddell Sea, and the Antarctic Peninsula. MPAs are the most effective way to protect ocean ecosystems. They protect biodiversity, while mitigating the impacts of climate change and providing reference areas for scientific research.
Through our work, we seek to guarantee the highest possible level of environmental protection for the Antarctic region, whether for tiny but important krill or for entire ecosystems like the Ross Sea. As the only environmental observer within the Antarctic Treaty System, ASOC plays a special role as the representative of the global conservation community on Antarctic issues.
We present papers outlining our positions at the meetings of Antarctic governance organizations, and provide information on how to protect the Antarctic environment to Treaty parties. We can also report back to the environmental community about progress or lack thereof on key conservation issues.
Our campaigners are experts in their subject areas and produce analytical papers and reports that are widely respected and cited. Although Antarctica is not often prominent in many people’s minds, ASOC is committed to enhancing public awareness about the continent, its magnificent species, and its unique environmental challenges.