Antarctic fishing

During our trips to Antarctica, we try to avoid as many ships as possible. Even though there are many other expedition cruise ships around and we are in regular e-mail and radio contact with them, we do our best to avoid seeing each other. This to give the passengers the idea they are alone on the Peninsula.

However, this doesn’t always work of course as many ships use the same area we will often see one or two a trip passing by.

And of course, there are other ships, like research vessels. Occasionally we even come across fishing vessels, like the Sejong in this picture. This often raises questions whether it is allowed to fish in Antarctic waters.

The Korean fishing vessel Sejong


Antarctica doesn’t belong to anybody but is governed by the Antarctic Treaty System. There are around 50 nations (covering ca. 2/3rds of the world population) who have signed the Antarctic Treaty and are either a full member or a consultative country. However, this Antarctic Treaty only deals with all landmasses south of 60ºS. The waters around the continent are not covered by it. CCAMLR, the Commission of Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, fills this gap. In this commission 23 nations and the EU try to manage the seas around Antarctica by setting the quota and establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s).

For now, there are no such MPA’s along the Antarctic Peninsula. There is a plan to establish an MPA along the Peninsula and part of the Weddell Sea. Hopefully, the members of CCAMLR will reach agreement on this at their next meeting, so we don’t see these big fishing factories any longer in this fragile part of our world.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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