The Antarctic Environmental Protection Act

Photographer: Peter Rejcek
National Science Foundation
Date taken: January 27, 2010

Palmer Station personnel use Zodiac boats to travel between islands in the region. Seen in the background is Torgersen Island, which is covered by Adelie penguin colonies. Farther in the distance are mountains rising steeply from the Antarctic Peninsula.

The purpose of the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act (AEPA) is to protect the Antarctic environment by implementing the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. The AEPA provides the legislative basis that Canada requires to oversee Canadian activities in the Antarctic and otherwise fulfill the Madrid Protocol's obligations. The Minister of the Environment is responsible for the AEPA.

The AEPA applies to Canadians, Canadian aircraft and Canadian vessels as defined in the Act. Canadians include Canadian citizens, permanent residents and Canadian corporations as defined in the Act. The Act also applies to anyone who is part of a Canadian expedition in the Antarctic. For the purpose of the Act, a Canadian expedition is an expedition that is organized in Canada or for which the final place of departure is Canada.

The Act specifically prohibits Canadians and Canadian vessels where applicable, from undertaking the following activities in the Antarctic under any circumstance

  • Damage of historic sites or monuments 
  • Open air burning of waste  
  • Disposal of waste in ice-free areas or freshwater systems
  • Discharge into the sea any products or substances that are harmful to the marine environment except under the conditions established for the disposal of domestic liquid waste under Section 43 of the Regulations 
  • Introduction of prohibited substances into the Antarctic
  • Possession, sale or transport of anything that has been obtained in contravention of the Act or its Regulations

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