A protected area system has been in place in Antarctica since the early 1960’s. Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPA) are established to protect areas of outstanding environmental, scientific, historic, aesthetic or wilderness values, any combination of those values, or on-going or planned scientific research. 

It is an offence to enter an ASPA without a permit.  Permits for entry to an ASPA should be applied for at the same time as submitting an Environmental Impact Assessment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Any activity to be carried out in a protected area must be in accordance with the relevant management plan. These are available from the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat website.

The plans provide, amongst other things, information on the reason for designation, identification of restricted zones, conditions under which permits may be granted, conditions applying to access and activities which may be carried out in the area.

All visits to an ASPA must be recorded and reported  to allow end of season reporting to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and to the other Antarctic Treaty Parties.

Additional information and guidance material below:

2014 ASPAs in the Ross Sea Region Poster

Annex V (Protected Areas)