Environmental Protection Expert Group

Environmental Protection Expert Group

Expert Group Leader: Ceisha Poirot​
EXCOM Oversight: Patricia Ortúzar & Gen Hashida

​Welcome to the Environmental Protection Expert Group webpage.

Terms of reference:

  • Share National Antarctic Program (NAP) expertise on approaches to minimising the environmental impacts associated with NAP operations, and the activities that NAPs support.
  • Review the work of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings and its Committee for Environmental Protection to identify and engage on developments of relevance to operators.
  • Identify co-operative programmes of scientific, technical and educational value that concern the protection of the Antarctic environment [Madrid Protocol, Article 6].
  • Understand sources of plastic in the Antarctic environment, support research on this and work towards removal/reduction of introduction of plastics, including micro-plastics, into the environment.

Understanding sources of plastic in the Antarctic

Download a poster here: COMNAP Understanding sources of plastics in the Antarctic Treaty Area

Reducing plastic wastes: national Antarctic programs use macro-plastics in support of science, for operations and logistics in the Antarctic. Often, using plastics make good sense and reduces fuel requirements for shipping since plastics weigh less than alternatives that exist. National Antarctic programs have good macro-plastic waste management and waste return systems in place. Research into micro-plastic distribution show that micro-plastics have been found in the marine area south of 60S.

Four key recommendations for national Antarctic programs are below:​

  • Take Action on Micro-Plastics. Artificial fabrics and personal care products often contain micro-plastics which can enter the marine environment. Educate your expeditioners about this. Ban personal care products that contain micro-plastics from being brought to Antarctica (see list at http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/product-lists/). Investigate ways to prevent micro-plastics from clothing from entering the Antarctic environment-particularly through washing. Perhaps wash clothes less often in Antarctica, use a wash bag, or install filters that capture micro-plastics before they can enter the Antarctic environment.
  • Do Research and Talk with your Suppliers. Clearly, much of the plastic pollution from in the area south of 60S latitude comes from outside of that area. However, it is not clear from where exactly. Research is the key to understanding sources of plastic pollution and such research should be supported. This includes research into the consumer-drivers for plastics and how we, as consumers, can work with our suppliers to reduce plastics going to Antarctica when possible.
  • Clean-up Plastic Pollution when Discovered and Record Meta-data. If possible, remove any plastic pollution you discover in the Antarctic environment. But note details of the plastic and record the position where found. Also remember it is important to record areas that are pollution free.
  • Couple Clean-up Activities and Actions with Research. We need cost-effective responses to reduce plastics of all types entering the Antarctic environment. This requires research, support to the research and feedback into national Antarctic programs procedures.​

Plastics-related information

Download the report from the BAS Workshop on plastics: Plastics-in-the-Ocean-Final-Report_11-May-2018

Download a Paper on Microplastics in the Antarctic Marine System Science of the Total Environment 2017

Take a look at the Nordic Environmental Handbook.

Read the blog about “Is plastic on your audit plan?“​

Download a copy of the EC publication Plastic Waste in the Environment: Plastic Waste in the Environment EC

Download a copy of the ASOC paper to CCAMLR SC-CAMLR XXXVI/BG/29 (16 September 2017): Marine debris

Download a copy of the Greenpeace report Microplastics and persistent flourinated chemicals

Make sure the items you are taking to the Antarctic do not contain micro-plastics: http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/product-lists/

Take a look at IAATO’s Guidelines for Visitors to reduce waste: IAATO Reducing waste visitor guidelines