The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) was held in Brno, Czech Republic from 31 July to 2 August 2017. It was one of the largest COMNAP gatherings held, with over 200 participants in the AGM, with the exhibitors, and with participants in the range of side meetings.
Members engaged in lively discussions and exchanged pre-season information for Antarctic research season 2017–2018. It was reported that significant progress was made on the development of the COMNAP database and the first COMNAP Antarctic Station Catalogue was published. The COMNAP Safety Expert Group held a dedicated air activity discussion which included a focus on safety of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and exchange of information on our state of knowledge of wildlife response to RPA activity. The Shipping Expert Group discussed the practical implementation of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Polar Code and agreed further development on the COMNAP Asset Tracking System (CATS) to expand to include aircraft as well as vessel movements. The system is designed to optimise asset movements in order to support international science coordination and in cases where an emergency situation may arise.
COMNAP continues significant work on environmental topics, and at the joint meeting of the COMNAP and SCAR Executive Committees, held on the margins of the AGM, there was an agreement to update the Non-native Species Voluntary Checklists for Supply Chain Managers (2012). The Joint Expert Group on Human Biology and Medicine met for a session and led a discussion on crisis management.
A half-day, open, workshop was held on “Seasonal Stations and Remote Field Camps” which focused on the sharing of best practice on energy and technology requirements/solutions, training of personnel and environmental management. This workshop was held as a direct result of the outcomes of the COMNAP Antarctic Roadmap Challenges Project.
Professor Kazuyuki Shiraishi of Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) completed his 3-year term as COMNAP Chair and announced his retirement as Director-General of the NIPR. Dr Kelly Falkner, Director of the Office of Polar Programs of the US National Science Foundation, was elected as COMNAP Chair for a 3-year term until the end of COMNAP AGM 2020.
For more details of the meeting, including the new vice-chairs elected, please visit the COMNAP website.