Sierra Club Conservation Policies
- Existing management for living resources of the Antarctic region comprises a confusing
array of domestic and international law, regulations and commissions together with the
traditional freedoms of the high seas,
- Interest in projected hydrocarbon resources of the Antarctic continental shelf has led
to a consideration of mineral resource regimes by the contracting parties to the Antarctic
- Scientists agree that the simple ecological structure of the Antarctic region is
extremely vulnerable to disturbance,
- Relatively moderate changes in the abundance of particular forms of life could easily
destabilize conditions for others, and recovery from such destabilization or degradation
would be very slow,
- Antarctica is known to play an important role in the formation of weather and climatic
conditions over half the globe,
- There are scientists who fear that human disturbances in polar regions - perhaps
resulting from petroleum or mineral resource exploitation -- might cause serious changes
in the global climate, [and]
- Despite the fragile nature of the Antarctic environment, its importance for southern
hemisphere climate and weather, and its unique collection of flora and fauna, there is no
assurance that adequate environmental protection will be maintained.
The Sierra Club reaffirms its commitment to the protection of Antarctica and its
dependent and associated ecosystems. We are dedicated to ensuring the primacy of
Antarctica's wilderness values for science, peace, education, and inspiration. These
values are of universal and paramount importance for humanity and the global environment.
We urge that the unique Antarctic environment be designated an international protected
area where no mining can occur.
The Sierra Club supports the following measures to protect the fragile environment of
- Setting aside forever areas of land and water large enough to protect ecosystems of
unique biological significance and natural beauty.
- Ratification by the United States of the Agreed Measures for Conservation of Antarctic
Fauna and Flora.
- A ban on harvesting of living resources except for scientific purposes, until a
management arrangement is developed, based on an assessment of its effect on the total
Southern Ocean ecosystem. Exploitation under existing agreements (e.g., Antarctic Seal
Convention and the International Whaling Commission whaling quotas) should be included in
determining this assessment.
- The continued agreement under the Antarctic Treaty prohibiting the disposal of
radioactive wastes. Extension of the prohibition to include any highly toxic or
- The continued agreement under the Antarctic Treaty prohibiting all military activities.
- Strengthened and continued strict control of all scientific research and an open
exchange of information.
- Limited tourism and its careful management so as to avoid pollution and damage to the
- Increased public participation in the decision- making process on Antarctica, including
the establishment of an advisory committee on which environmental interests are
Adopted by the Board of Directors, May 7-8, 1977; amended March 17-19, 1989; July 8,