Antarctic Science Strategy Launch

  • Simon Upton

Antarctica holds a special significance for New Zealanders. Geography and history have made New Zealand a leading Antarctic nation. We intend to continue in that leadership role.

The "Ministerial-on-Ice" in January focussed considerable attention around the world on the pressing issues concerning the stewardship of Antarctica. I was pleased that Ministers, particularly those from the Northern Hemisphere for whom Antarctica has been out of sight and out of mind, shared our grave concern at the threat posed by continuing illegal and unregulated fishing for toothfish in the Southern Ocean. The humble toothfish have achieved celebrity status over the last few months. But that aside, what happens to them will be a real test for the resolve of Antarctic nations.

The backdrop for the Ice meeting, and what clearly underpins New Zealand's mana as an Antarctic nation, is the excellence and vigour of our national commitment to on-going scientific and environmental research in the Ross Sea region and elsewhere in Antarctica. New Zealand's leadership rests on our understanding and attainment of a predictive knowledge of impacts, direct and indirect, on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Antarctica New Zealand's Science Strategy for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean underlines our on-going commitment to the science and the region. It provides a framework to guide, shape and manage our national Antarctic and Southern Ocean research over the next five years and to establish the scientific facts on which to base sound stewardship decisions.

The five themes of the strategy overlap the many disciplines associated with Antarctic and Southern Ocean research: Antarctica as a global barometer; the Southern Ocean; life in extreme environments; human influences in/on Antarctica; the connections between Antarctica and New Zealand. Each theme

has been created to answer key questions focussed on better understanding the Antarctic ecosystems and preparing New Zealand with knowledge for the future.

The strategy flags opportunities for increasing our international profile through further collaborative international science, one of the underpinnings of the Antarctic Treaty System. Some tremendous research is being undertaken and the Cape Roberts stratigraphic drilling project is but one excellent example of this.

The New Zealand Science Strategy for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean seeks to build on our successes and to set out clearly our science priorities in the Antarctic.

Let me close by congratulating Dean Peterson and the many scientists involved in the production of this strategy. Antarctic science in New Zealand is in good heart.