Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
(Madrid, 4 October 1991)
1. The protection of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems and the intrinsic value of Antarctica, including its wilderness and aesthetic values and its value as an area for the conduct of scientific research, in particular research essential to understanding the global environment, shall be fundamental considerations in the planning and conduct of all activities in the Antarctic Treaty area.
2. To this end:
(a) activities in the Antarctic Treaty area shall be planned and conducted so as to limit adverse impacts on the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems;
(b) activities in the Antarctic Treaty area shall be planned and conducted so as to avoid:
(i) adverse effects on climate or weather patterns;
(ii) significant adverse effects on air or water quality;
(iii) significant changes in the atmospheric, terrestrial (including aquatic), glacial or marine environments;
(iv) detrimental changes in the distribution, abundance or productivity of species or populations of species of fauna and flora;
(v) further jeopardy to endangered or threatened species or populations of such species; or
(vi) degradation of, or substantial risk to, areas of biological, scientific, historic, aesthetic or wilderness significance;
(c) activities in the Antarctic Treaty area shall be planned and conducted on the basis of information sufficient to allow prior assessments of, and informed judgments about, their possible impacts on the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems and on the value of Antarctica for the conduct of scientific research; such judgments shall take full account of:
(i) the scope of the activity, including its area, duration and intensity;
(ii) the cumulative impacts of the activity, both by itself and in combination with other activities in the Antarctic Treaty area;
(iii) whether the activity will detrimentally affect any other activity in the Antarctic Treaty area;
(iv) whether technology and procedures are available to provide for environmentally safe operations;
(v) whether there exists the capacity to monitor key environmental parameters and ecosystem components so as to identify and provide early warning of any adverse effects of the activity and to provide for such modification of operating procedures as may be necessary in the light of the results of monitoring or increased knowledge of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems; and
(vi) whether there exists the capacity to respond promptly and effectively to accidents, particularly those with potential environmental effects;
(d) regular and effective monitoring shall take place to allow assessment of the impacts of ongoing activities, including the verification of predicted impacts;
(e) regular and effective monitoring shall take place to facilitate early detection of the possible unforeseen effects of activities carried on both within and outside the Antarctic Treaty area on the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems.
3. Activities shall be planned and conducted in the Antarctic Treaty area so as to accord priority to scientific research and to preserve the value of Antarctica as an area for the conduct of such research, including research essential to understanding the global environment.
4. Activities undertaken in the Antarctic Treaty area pursuant to scientific research programmes, tourism and all other governmental and non-governmental activities in the Antarctic Treaty area for which advance notice is required in accordance with Article VII(5) of the Antarctic Treaty, including associated logistic support activities, shall:
(a) take place in a manner consistent with the principles in this Article; and
(b) be modified, suspended or cancelled if they result in or threaten to result in impacts upon the Antarctic environment or dependent or associated ecosystems inconsistent with those principles.