Extremely cold temperatures and severe climatic conditions make Antarctica the most lifeless continent in the world. Because the majority of its mainland is ice-covered, Antarctica is unable to support most forms of plant and animal life. The animal life that is able to survive is primarily marine dependent, living in the Southern Ocean. The Southern Ocean is the habitat for a unique and diverse collection of marine living resources. Interestingly, this marine life, because of the small number of species, comprises one of the simplest ecosystems in the world. The existence of a peculiarly short food chain focuses much of the attention on one particular species-krill. Those marine animals which do not rely directly on krill as their main food source feed animals, instead on other which in turn feed directly on krill. Consequently, a serious depletion of krill in the Antarctic could have a potentially devastating effect on the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem. This short food chain and the resulting strong interdependence among species have made it necessary to implement strict conservation measures in the Antarctic. Surprisingly, it is only recently that the need for conservation measures in the Antarctic has been recognized and acted upon. When the Antarctic Treaty, the first in a series of agreements that comprise the Antarctic Treaty System, was negotiated in the late 1950s, conservation was not considered to be one of the more important issues. Conserving the environment did not become a primary issue in the Antarctic until the Antarctic Treaty parties drafted the Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora (Agreed Measures), at the Third Consultative Meeting of the Antarctic Treaty Parties in 1964. The Agreed Measures were the first in a series of agreements which offer greater protection to the Antarctic environment. The move toward ecosystem awareness is a significant departure from previous human attitudes toward nature. More specifically, humans have historically viewed nature as existing purely for their own purposes and consumption. Natural resource management existed as a means to maximize long-term as well as short-term commercial benefits. However, the development of protective agreements for Antarctic marine living resources signals a corresponding retreat from this human-centered attitude. A new attitude has developed which acknowledges nature as having intrinsic value distinct from anything associated with humans or human benefits. This still-developing attitude has been classified as "deep ecology." This Article reviews the development of the deep ecology approach, from its origins to its implementation, throughout the Antarctic Treaty System. Section II of this Article provides the necessary background information about deep ecology theory. Section III discusses and analyzes the Antarctic Treaty System. This section will also outline the initial, limited application of deep ecology in the Antarctic Treaty and the growth of the deep ecology approach through the System's subsequent Treaties. The Article concludes that the Antarctic Treaty System has evolved from a regulatory system concerned with protecting and developing the fishing industries, to a more preservation-oriented system which protects all species as part of the global ecosystem.
Sudhir Chopra & Craig Hanson,
Deep Ecology And The Antarctic Marine Living Resources: Lessons For Other Regimes,
Ocean & Coastal L.J.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/oclj/vol3/iss1/5