Management Plan for Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 132 Potter peninsula




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Management Plan for
Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 132

POTTER PENINSULA




Introduction

This area was originally designated as Site of Special Scientific Interest No. 13 in ATCM Recommendation XIII-8, following a proposal by Argentina, given its diverse and extensive vegetation and fauna, which constitutes a representative sample of the Antarctic ecosystem.

In 1997, the Management Plan was adapted to the requirements of Annex V of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, and approved through Measure 3 (1997). This version consists of the revision to the Management Plan approved pursuant to Measure 2 (2005), and this is the second revision since entry into force of Annex V.

The original goals for designating this Area, specified on point 2, are still relevant. The anthropic disturbance could jeopardise the long-term studies conducted in the Area, especially during the breeding season.



1. Description of values to be protected

The coastal areas host important bird colonies, marine mammal breeding colonies and profuse vegetation (vast moss carpets in coastal areas and lichen forests in rocky areas). Scientific research programmes on the breeding ecology of elephant seals (Mirounga leonina), the Adelie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) and the gentoo (Pygoscelis papua), including the CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring Programme, among others, have been developed in the area since 1982.

Currently, the Area has acquired special relevance, given that the study of Adelie penguin colonies present in the Area offers responses to environmental changes observed in the Antarctic Peninsula, especially the lower frequency of cold years associated to the reduction of sea ice extensions, and its effects on the abundance of krill.

2. Aims and Objectives


  • Prevent unnecessary human disturbance;

  • Permit the development of any scientific research provided it does not compromise the values awarding protection to the Area.

  • Avoid major changes in the structure and composition of the flora and fauna communities;

  • Prevent or minimise the introduction to the Area of alien plants, animals and microbes;

  • Minimise the possibility of introduction of pathogens which may bring disease to fauna populations within the Area.

3. Management Activities

  • The staff to be posted at Carlini Base (former Jubany Base, Argentine base adjacent to the ASPA), in particular, staff authorised to enter the ASPA, will be specifically trained on the conditions of the Management Plan;



  • Copies of this Management Plan shall be available at the Carlini Base.

  • Approach distances to fauna should be respected, except when scientific projects may require otherwise, and provided that the relevant permits have been issued.

  • Collection of samples will be limited to the minimum required for the development of authorised scientific research plans.

  • All markers and structures erected within the ASPA for scientific or management purposes shall be properly secured and maintained in good conditions.

  • Where practicable, movements within the Area shall be on foot, along existing tracks known by staff familiar with the Area and regular visitors to it. These are the beach area and the upper boundary of the Area, northeast of the Three Brothers Hill.

4. Period of designation

Indefinite



5. Maps

Map 1, included at the end of this Management Plan, shows the location of ASPA 132 (in diagonal lines) in relation to the Potter Peninsula (King George Island).



6. Description of the Area

6(i) Geographical coordinates and boundaries

This Area is located on the east coast of Maxwell Bay, southwest of King George Island, between the southern tip of Mirounga Point (Northwest of Potter Peninsula) and the outcrop known as "Spur 7", on the north-eastern border of Stranger Point. The area stretches along the coastal strip up to the cliff edge, which reaches heights of 15-50 metres. This coastal strip has a variable width, stretching up to 500 metres from the shore at low tide water levels. The Area mainly comprises raised beaches, largely covered with mid-sized pebbles, basaltic structures and lateral and terminal moraines. The shoreline is very irregular and it has a number of small bays shaped among rocky headlands.



6(ii) Natural features

The area encompasses important scientific values due to the presence of breeding colonies of elephant seals (Mirounga leonina), and non-breeding groups of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) and occasionally of Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddelli), crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) and leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx). The breeding season brings together around 400 elephant seals, and between 200 and 600 during the fledging season. The non-breeding groups of Antarctic fur seals can add up to 300 individuals, although that figure may vary considerably from one year to the next.

Also present are significant colonies of gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) and Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae), with 3800 and 3000 pairs, respectively. The population of storm petrels (mostly Oceanites oceanicus and, to a much lesser extent, the Fregetta tropica) reaches some 200 pairs. Kelp gulls (Larus dominicanus), Sheathbills (Chionis alba), Antarctic terns (Sterna vittata), southern giant petrels (Macronectes giganteus) and skuas (Catharacta sp.) also breed in the area. Given that some of the nesting sites around Potter Peninsula change their position over time, population figures are estimations.

Adelia and gentoo penguins are distributed around Stranger Point, between the Elefante shelter and Spur 7. Mammal concentrations are distributed along the coastline, between Spur 1 and Spur 7, and giant petrels nesting sites are usually distributed between Spur 7 and Spur 4 (see Map 1). There is an abundant development of plant communities in the Area, dominated by lichens and mosses, on rocky slopes and on the flat surfaces of paleo-beaches, respectively.



6(iii) Access to the Area

See point 7(ii)

Shelters: The Argentine shelter Elefante is located around 150 m from the coast, 1,000 metres northeast from Point Stranger. From March to October it is used by research groups conducting activities in the ASPA. The shelter can accommodate a maximum of 6 people (see section 7(ix) on Disposal of waste).1

Signposts: signposts warning about the entrance to the Protected Area are located at: Mirounga Point (close to the helipad), at the north base of the Three Brothers Hill, and on the beach area close to Spur I. Signposts display information about the existence of the ASPA and the requirement to carry an access Permit.



6(iv) Location of other Protected Areas within close proximity

  • ASPA No. 125, Fildes Peninsula, King George Island (25 de Mayo), South Shetland Islands lies about 20km to the east.

  • ASPA No. 128, Western Shore of Admiralty Bay, King George Island (25 de Mayo), South Shetland Islands lies about 10 km northeast.

  • ASPA No. 133, Harmony Point, Nelson Island, lies about 30 km west-southwest.

  • ASPA N° 171 Narębski Point (south-eastern coast of the Barton Peninsula, King George Island (25 de Mayo)

6(v) Restricted zones within the Area

None.

7. Permit Conditions

7(i) General aspects.

Access to the Area is prohibited except in accordance with a Permit issued by appropriate national authorities.

Conditions for the issuance of a Permit to access the Area:


  • the activity serves a scientific, ASPA management or outreach purpose, consistent with Management Plan objectives, which may not be served anywhere else, and any management activities (inspection, maintenance or review) are in accordance with the Management Plan;

  • the Permit is carried by staff authorised to access the Area

  • a post-visit report is supplied to the appropriate national authority mentioned in the Permit upon completion of the activity, within the terms established by national authorities issuing the Permit.

Neither tourism nor any other recreational activities are permitted.

7(ii) Access to and movements within the Area

Except for authorised exceptions, access to the Area shall be on foot, from the northern tip, close to the Carlini base helipad, or from behind the northern slope of the Three Brothers Hill (see Map 1). Access to the Area by sea onto the beaches should be avoided when there is fauna present, especially during the breeding season.

Vehicles of any kind are prohibited within the Area, except for those essential for the maintenance of the shelter, which shall only be operated by logistics staff and pursuant to an access Permit. In such a case, access to the ASPA will be through a gentle slope close to the Albatros shelter, and vehicles should be driven avoiding vegetated areas and bird and mammal concentrations (see Map 1).

Aircraft overflight operations over the ASPA shall be subject to the provisions contained in Resolution 2 (2004), "Guidelines for the operation of aircrafts over bird colonies". Aircraft landing operations on the Area are forbidden, except in cases of emergency or air safety.

Between October and December, maintenance of the shelter should be avoided or, if necessary, reduced to the maximum extent practicable, and tasks should always be performed pursuant to a Permit. This period is considered particularly sensitive because it is concomitant with egg-laying and elephant seals breast feeding peak times.

7(iii) Activities which are or may be conducted within the Area including restrictions on time and place


  • scientific research which cannot be conducted elsewhere and which will not jeopardise the natural ecosystem of the Area;

  • Essential management activities;

  • Activities contributing to raise awareness of scientific activities, under National Antarctic Programs.

7(iv) Installation, modification or removal of structures

No new structures are to be erected within the Area, or scientific equipment installed, except for compelling scientific or management reasons and subject to the relevant Permit.

Any scientific equipment to be installed in the Area, as well as any research marker, shall be approved by a Permit and be clearly labelled, indicating the country, name of principal investigator and year of installation. All such materials should be of such nature as to pose minimal risks of contamination to the Area, or the risk of interfering with the fauna or damaging the vegetation.

No research traces are to remain once the Permit has expired. If a specific project cannot be finished within the timeframe specified in the Permit, such circumstance shall be informed in the post-visit report, and an extension of the validity of the Permit authorising any materials to remain in the Area shall be requested.



7(v) Location of field camps

Projects authorised to work within the ASPA may request accommodation at the Carlini Base, subject to availability. When necessary for scientific reasons, the Elefante shelter (located inside the Area) or the Albatros shelter (outside the Area, though very close) may be used. Tents will be allowed for the sole purpose of storing scientific instruments or equipment, or to be used as an observation post. The use of the Elefante shelter for scientific purposes, by staff other than Argentine Antarctic Program staff shall be arranged in advance with such Program.



7(vi) Restriction on material and organisms which may be brought into the Area

  • No living animals or plant material shall be deliberately introduced into the ASPA. All reasonable precautions against the unintentional introduction of alien species to the Area shall be adopted. It should be taken into account than alien species are most frequently and effectively introduced by humans. Clothes (pockets, boots, velcro fasteners on garments) and personal equipment (bags, backpacks, camera bags, tripods), as well as scientific instruments and work tools may carry insect larvae, seeds, propagules, etc. For more information, refer to the “Non-Native Species Manual – CEP 2011”

  • No uncooked poultry products shall be introduced into the Area.

  • No herbicides or pesticides shall be brought into the Area. Any other chemicals, which shall be introduced with the corresponding Permit, shall be removed from the Area on or before the conclusion of the activity for which the Permit was granted. The purpose and type of chemicals shall be documented in as much detail as possible for other scientists´ information.

  • No fuel, food or any other materials are to be stored in the Area, unless required for essential purposes connected with the activity for which the Permit has been granted, provided they are stored inside the Elefante shelter or close to it, for removal upon completion of the activity. Any fuel used at the Elefante shelter shall be handled pursuant to procedures established by the Argentine Antarctic Program for Carlini Base.

7(vii) Taking or harmful interference with native flora and fauna

Taking of, or harmful interference with, native flora and fauna is prohibited, except in accordance with a Permit. Where an activity involves taking or harmful interference, it should be carried out in accordance with the SCAR Code of Conduct for Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes in Antarctica, as a minimum standard.

Information on taking and harmful interference will be duly exchanged through the Antarctic Treaty Information Exchange system and its record shall, as a minimum standard, be lodged with the Antarctic Master Directory or, in Argentina, with the National Antarctic Data Centre (Centro de Datos Nacionales Antarticos).

Scientists taking samples of any kind will provide evidence that they are familiar with samples previously taken, in order to minimise the risk of a potential duplication. To that end, they shall refer to the EIES and/or contact the relevant National Antarctic Programmes.



7(viii) Collection or removal of anything not brought into the ASPA by the permit holder

Material may be collected or removed from the Area only in accordance with a Permit. Removal of dead biological specimens for scientific purposes must not exceed such levels as to entail the deterioration of the nutritional base of local scavengers.



7 (ix) Disposal of waste

All non-physiological waste shall be removed from the Area. Wastewater and liquid domestic waste may be dumped into the sea, in accordance with Article 5 of Annex III to the Madrid Protocol.

Waste from research activities conducted in the Area may be temporarily stored next to the Elefante shelter awaiting removal. Such waste must be disposed of pursuant to Annex III to the Madrid Protocol, labelled as trash and duly sealed to prevent accidental leaks.

7(x) Measures that may be necessary to ensure that the aims and objectives of the Management Plan continue to be met

Access Permits to the Area may be granted in order to conduct biological monitoring and site inspection activities, including the collection of plant material and animal samples for scientific purposes, the erection or maintenance of signposts, and any other management measures. All structures and markers installed in the Area must be authorised by a Permit and clearly identified by country, name of principal researcher and year of installation. Research markers and structures must be removed on or before the expiry of the Permit. If specific projects cannot be concluded within the permitted time, an application must be made for an extension to leave the items in the Area.



7(xi) Reporting requirements

The principal Permit holder for each Permit issued shall submit a report of activities conducted in the Area once the activity has been completed. Such report must respect the format provided previously, together with the Permit, and be sent to the authority issuing the Permit.

The records of ASPA permits and post-visit reports will be exchanged with the other Consultative Parties, as part of the Information Exchange system, as specified in Article 10.1 of Annex V.

Such reports shall be stored and made available for inspection by all interested Parties, SCAR, CCAMLR and COMNAP, so as to provide the information on human activities within the Area necessary to ensure proper management.



8. Supporting documentation.

Non-Native Species Manual. Resolution 6 (2011) – ATCM XXXIV - CEP XIV , Buenos Aires (available at http://www.ats.aq/documents/atcm34/ww/atcm34_ww004_e.pdf)

Guidelines for the Operation of Aircrafts. Resolution 2 (2004) – ATCM XXVII - CEP VII, Cape Town (available at http://www.ats.aq/documents/recatt/Att224_e.pdf)

SCAR’s Code of Conduct for the Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (available at http://www.scar.org/treaty/atcmxxxiv/ATCM34_ip053_e.pdf).





Map 1: Management Plan for Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 132 (continuous diagonal lines) in relation to the Potter Peninsula. Permanent water bodies are shown in broken diagonal lines.


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