South-African National Antarctic Programme
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SANAP Environmental Management

The South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) is managed jointly under the auspices of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Directorate: Southern Oceans and Antarctic Support and the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation, the latter being responsible for science strategy, funding and implementation. The mission of SANAP is to increase understanding of the natural environment and life in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean through appropriate science and technology.† SANAP is strongly committed to the comprehensive protection of the Environments in which it operates.

The three bases have different sets of environmental management rules that apply to them:


SANAE is managed according to the Antarctic Treaty and the Madrid Protocol.

In 1991 the Antarctic Treaty countries met in Madrid to sign a historic pact to conserve the Antarctic environment, taking in Antarctica and the surrounding Southern Ocean waters south of latitude 60 degrees South. The 'Madrid Protocol' (Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty) came into force in 1998.

Environmental issues are also addressed in the various forums of the Antarctic Treaty system, mainly through the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), and the Scientific Council for Antarctic Research (SCAR).

The Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP), an Antarctic Treaty body that meets annually under the terms of the Madrid Protocol.

The Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) concentrates on obtaining information to manage the sustainable use of Southern Ocean fisheries and to protect the marine environment around Antarctica. It's policy position is underpinned by sound scientific research. This research focuses on the species that are targets, or potential targets, for commercial fisheries and on the dependent and related species in the ecosystem.

Marion Island (and Prince Edward Island)

The Prince Edward Islands comprise of Marion Island, on which the base is and Prince Edward Island, which is uninhabitated.†

They are South African Islands and they are managed according to the newly adopted Prince Edwards Islands Management Plan (PEIMP).

The Prince Edward Islands, South Africaís only overseas possession, have been accorded the countryís highest state of formal protection, that of Special Nature Reserve in terms of the then Environmental Conservation Act of 1989, now superseded by the national Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, No. 57 of 2003 (NEMPA).

In terms of NEMPA, entry into a Special Nature Reserve is restricted for research and conservation management activities only. One consequence of this high level of protection is that commercial tourism may not be permitted. A management plan was adopted in 1996 and is currently being revised.

†Greatest risk from alien species
As with other sub-Antarctic islands, one of the largest threats to the Prince Edward Islandsí ecosystem is the introduction of alien animal and plant species and disease-bearing agents by visiting expeditions. The warming and drying of the island due to climate change has created an environment that appears to be more conducive to the introduced alien flora and fauna species establishing themselves. In addition, alien species already present may become more of a problem as the islandsí climate changes.

Some alien species that have been introduced in the past have been eradicated. The feral cat (Felis catus), for example, was removed from Marion Island after a long campaign. The remaining alien mammal, the House Mouse (Mus musculus), is proving harder to eradicate. Introduced plants have spread so far that their removal is now considered impractical. The Prince Edward Islands Management Committee (PEIMC) now places much emphasis on activities designed to reduce the risk of introducing new alien species, with a stringent set of quarantine protocols in place that are regularly reviewed and enhanced.

A commercial longline fishery for Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) around the islands and on nearby sea rises and mounts has led to large numbers of seabird deaths since the fisheries inception in the mid-1990s. The adoption by South Africa of mitigation measures set out by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and its National Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries, following guidelines set out by the Committee on Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is helping to reduce this bycatch to low levels. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing has done much to harm the stock itself. A new fisheries patrol vessel commissioned in late 2004, the Sarah Baartman, is capable of reaching the islands and should help alleviate this situation.

The islands are also affected by environmental issues such as human disturbance, pollution and litter. Regulations in the management plan, coupled with a permitting system operated by the PEIMC, appear sufficient to address these impacts, although a more codified system supported by a best-practice manual, operated by professional environmental management staff employed within SANAP has been recommended.

Several initiatives are underway to enhance the formal level of protection of the Prince Edward Islands.† Internationally, South Africa has prepared nominations to register the islands as natural sites under the World Heritage Convention and as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Domestically, South Africa is working towards the proclamation of large Marine Protected Area around the islands that will encompass territorial waters and at least parts of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), extending out to 200 nautical miles. The first stage in this process has been the declaration of territorial waters (out to 12 nautical miles) a no-fishing zone from the beginning of 2005.

In addition to the above initiatives, South Africa is a founder member of the international Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, which offers scope for the enhanced protection of the islandsí threatened albatrosses and larger petrels.

Gough Island

Gough Island is British Territory and operations on the island are in accordance with the Gough and Inaccessible Island World Heritage Site management plan and its Appendices, which can be reviewed on the web page of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Conservation issues at the Gough Island Nature Reserve (a World Heritage Site) are broadly similar to those at the Prince Edward Islands, with the greatest attention being focused on the eradication of alien species, especially the House Mouse. South African scientists and researchers strictly follow the requirements and regulations of the islandís management plan, even though ultimate responsibility for its management lies with the United Kingdom.† South Africa provides logistical support to a UK-funded project to eradicate the Procumbent Pearlwort Sagina procumbens believed to have been accidentally introduced with packing materials from Marion Island sometime in the 1990s. The project is currently restricted to the immediate surrounds of the base.

The Government of Tristan da Cunha receives advice from the Gough Island Nature Reserve Advisory Committee, of which two of its South African-domiciled members are long-standing Honorary Conservation Officers of Tristan da Cunha, thus facilitating close links between SANAP and Tristan. An additional link between the two countries is that one of these Conservation Officers has drafted a new Tristan da Cunha Conservation Ordinance, which, along with revision of the Gough Island Management Plan, now underway under contract in South Africa, will lead to enhanced protection for this island and its biota.

SANAP Operations

SANAP has developed standard environmental procedures that applies to all operations everywhere that it operates.

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