The Southern Ocean surrounds the continent of Antarctica and is clearly delimited by the Antarctic Convergence (or Polar Front), which is formed where cold Antarctic waters meet warmer waters to the north. The Antarctic Convergence acts as an effective biological barrier, and the Southern Ocean is therefore substantially a closed ecosystem.

The aim of the Convention is to conserve marine life of the Southern Ocean. However this does not exclude harvesting carried out in a rational manner.

Achievement of this aim is far from simple – it requires the collection of large quantities of information and the development of appropriate scientific and analytical techniques.

A ‘precautionary’ approach has been implemented to minimise risk associated with unsustainable practices in conditions of uncertainty.

This approach is complemented by the need to take into account ecological links between species and ‘natural’ as opposed to ‘human-induced’ variability – the ‘ecosystem approach’.