Protection of Antarctica, its surrounding oceans and its biodiversity requires concerted efforts to minimize human impact on a global level. Efforts include minimizing the number of tourists, closely regulating commercial activities in the region, addressing the issue of worldwide climate change and establishing internationally recognized sanctuaries, standards and systems of oversight.
The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition advocates for stricter environmental protection standards in the region, monitors activities in the area to be sure they occur with minimal damage to the fragile ecosystem and seeks to establish ways to enforce preservation and conservation policies. The organization seeks to regulate tourism and extend the reach of the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol.
According to the British Antarctic Survey, a component of the Natural Environment Research Council, the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty attempts to achieve the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic Environment. The Antarctic-Environmental Protocol specifically bans all commercial mineral resource activity, requires conservation of fauna and flora, provides rules for waste management, requires that environmental impact assessments be conducted prior to the beginning of any activity and designates environmentally protected areas.
The Antarctic Treaty, in effect since 1961, has been signed by 46 different countries, of which 28 undertake major scientific research activities in Antarctica. This treaty, plus three additional international agreements, govern activities in Antarctica.