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SCAR General News

CCAMLR blue horizontalSCAR was essential in the very formation of the CCAMLR Convention, providing the scientific basis and support for a convention that could manage krill in the Southern Ocean. Today, SCAR’s mission is to advance international research in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean across a range of disciplines, and to provide independent and objective scientific advice and information to the Antarctic Treaty system, including to CCAMLR.

Representing SCAR at this year’s (2019) SC-CAMLR and CCAMLR meeting, were Drs Cassandra Brooks (USA) and Mary-Anne Lea (Australia).

This year, SCAR and its affiliate groups made many contributions to CCAMLR’s work. SCAR’s work, including through EG-BAMM, EG-ABI, SKAG, and Plastic-AG, was mentioned throughout the two-week meetings of SC-CAMLR and CCAMLR. During the meeting, SCAR also presented on the Retrospective Analysis of Animal Tracking Data (RAATD), which SC-CAMLR was particularly interested in seeing the outcomes of.

SCAR also presented an update on the Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment Expert (ACCE) Group, focusing on elements relevant to CCAMLR. These included climate-related impacts on life history and population dynamics of long-lived seabirds (e.g. black-browed albatross), breeding failures of Adélie penguins, growth of Antarctic krill, poleward contraction of Antarctic krill distribution and contraction of lanternfish distribution. Further, during the meeting, SCAR called attention to the recent evidence presented on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (IPCC SROCC) which is in agreement with the information presented in the ACCE update. Beyond SCAR’s mention, many other observers and member delegations to CCAMLR drew attention to the IPCC SROCC. CCAMLR also discussed (though did not reach consensus) on updating Resolution 30 on Climate Change, which SCAR supported.

SCAR also reported on an international collaboration (UK, Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Monaco, USA and SCAR) for reviewing the dependence and vulnerability of emperor penguins to ongoing and projected climate change. SCAR highlighted that next steps included the liaising with the IUCN Species Survival Commission Penguin Specialist Group and BirdLife International to inform SCAR’s evaluation of the threat status of emperor penguins and to report back to SC-CAMLR in 2020. Should an assessment of the emperor penguin’s conservation status, in accordance with the Guidelines for CEP Consideration of Proposals for New and Revised Designations of Antarctic Specially Protected Species under Annex II to the Protocol, determine that the species is at significant risk, the co-sponsors propose seeking Antarctic Protected Species Status for the species. A draft species Action Plan would then be developed collaboratively amongst interested Parties, led through the appropriate SCAR Expert Group. SC-CAMLR noted that the work by the international group of scientists provided an excellent summary of the known threats to emperor penguins and nominated Dr Trathan to engage in the SCAR process identified above.

Noting that in 2020 SCAR will be conducting a substantive decadal review of the original 2009 Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE) report, the UK invited SCAR to present their report in the form of a lecture at CCAMLR-39. SCAR accepted the invitation and it was welcomed by the Commission that SCAR would do this lecture in the first week of the meeting in 2020. The entire Commission also thanked SCAR for its valuable work on climate change.