Antarctic and Southern Oceans Initiative

The biodiversity of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean remains under constant threat. Whether it survives the current wave of exploitation and the impact of climate change will be determined in the next few decades.
That's why, in 2006, WWF launched its Antarctic & Southern Ocean Initiative. This is a truly global initiative with the aim of engaging the 46 Antarctic Treaty governments around the world, which represent over 80% of the world’s population, in the protection and management of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean.

WWF offices in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, USA, and UK with wider advocacy support from the WWF network in many more countries are focusing on four conservation priorities:

WWF’s History in Antarctica

WWF has been involved in conservation in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean for over 30 years.

In 1966 WWF Founder Sir Peter Scott first visited Antarctica. In 1978 recognising the need for coordinated and urgent action to protect the Antarctic, WWF was a co-founder of a non-governmental coalition Antarctic & Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) that remains very active today (

WWF is very active within the many political frameworks that seek to protect the Antarctic diversity and manage the use of its resources in a sustainable manner. In 1991, the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection was adopted and WWF is involved in the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)

In 1994, the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was established and since the mid-late 90s, action plans have been developed to conserve the albatross and other seabirds affected by longlining. Since 2000, WWF has sought innovative ways of working including fishing industry cooperation initiatives such as Southern Seabirds Solutions - a ground breaking fisher-to-fisher cooperation to reduce seabird deaths.

WWF has been undertaking international advocacy to improve fisheries management including lobbying for the speedy initiation, development and application of a catch documentation scheme for toothfish. WWF has also lobbied national for the identification, designation and management of areas of sea in need for greater protection such as the Heard and McDonald Marine Reserve - one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, designated in 2002.