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WP027: Wildlife Approach Distances in Antarctica

ATCM XXXVIII and CEP XVIII 2015, Sofia, Bulgaria

Working Paper

WP027: Wildlife Approach Distances in Antarctica

Submitted: 16/04/2015


Setting appropriate wildlife approach distances for minimizing the impacts of human activities in Antarctica has long been of concern to the ATCPs, reflected by Article 3 of Annex II to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. A wide range of guidelines for approach distances now exists. The question of approach distances to minimize wildlife impacts nonetheless remains of concern, especially given increases in activities such as coastal camping and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for scientific research and other purposes. This paper presents the outcome of a recent meta-analysis of research conducted on human disturbance impacts on Antarctic wildlife. The research demonstrates that current, behaviourally-based pedestrian approach distance guidelines, as set out in Resolution 3 (2011) – ATCM XXXIV, do not reflect cryptic (physiological), negative responses by wildlife, and consideration should be given to their revision. No scientific evidence currently exists for impacts of camping or UAVs on wildlife in Antarctica, because such work has not yet been published in the peer-reviewed literature. Work on UAV impacts is underway both on the continent and elsewhere globally, which means that evidence on impacts and their mitigation will become available within the next few years.

ATCM - Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
CEP - Committee for Environmental Protection
38th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
01 Jun 2015 - 10 Jun 2015