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International Law on Antarctic Mineral Resource Exploitation

Runyu Wang

This book analyzes the legal regime of the exploitation of the mineral resources in the Antarctic. Therefore, it elaborates on the development of the Antarctic Treaty and the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). The author examines the history and influence of the Convention for the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (CRAMRA), which purpose it is to prohibit unregulated mineral resource activities in Antarctica, and its provisions are extremely strict with the aim of environmental protection. Through analyzing and comparing the CRAMRA and the 1991 Environmental Protocol, the book concludes that it is not beyond credulity to imagine that a new round of discussion on Antarctic mineral exploration will be held in the near future.

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Part 4: Protection of the Antarctic Environment and Ecosystem

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Part 4:   Protection of the Antarctic Environment and Ecosystem

A.   Management of Antarctic Living Resources before the Protocol

The original motive for man to go to Antarctica was economic interest, such as seal hunting which began in the last quarter of the eighteenth century and whaling from the early 1900s. Such uncontrolled explorations ultimately threatened some Antarctic living resources with extinction, notably the blue whale in 1930s.956 The persistent decline in the number of whales gained international attention, and the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (the Whaling Convention) was signed in Washington DC on 2 December 1946. To protect the Antarctic environment and its living resources, the Antarctic Treaty alone is definitely not enough. Therefore, ATCPs have been engaging in a long process to develop a series of instruments to conserve and manage Antarctic living resources. In 1964, the Agreed Measures on the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora was approved as Recommendation III-VIII to the Antarctic Treaty and was described as a “treaty within a treaty”957. In order to achieve the principles and objectives of the Antarctic Treaty, it designated the area south of 60° South Latitude as a “Special Conservation Area”, in which human activities related to Antarctic plants and animals were to be restricted.958 As a traditional target of hunting activities, Antarctic seals were almost extinct in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.959 In 1972, a component of the ATS, the Convention for the Conservation of...

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