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Antarctic Conservation Act

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Public law  95-541
Statutes at Large  92 Stat. 2048
Antarctic Conservation Act
Long title  An Act to implement the Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora of the Antarctic Treaty; An Act to implement the Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora, and for other purposes.
Nicknames  Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978
Enacted by  the 95th United States Congress
Titles amended  16 U.S.C.: Conservation

The Antarctic Conservation Act, enacted in 1978 by the 95th United States Congress (Pub.L. 95–541), and amended by Pub.L. 104–227, is a United States federal law that addresses the issue of environmental conservation on the continent of Antarctica. The Departments of the Treasury, Interior and Commerce are responsible for the Act's enforcement.

The Act can be found in 16 U.S.C. §§ 2401–2413.


Until the 1960s, few rules existed regarding activities in Antarctica. Fishing, whaling and sealing were uncontrolled, and various species were threatened with extinction. Tourists and research stations littered and polluted. In 1961 the Antarctic Treaty was established to protect the continent, and establishes major restrictions and responsibilities on visitors and uses.

As part of its responsibilities as a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, the United States passed the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978 to establish rules for all U.S. citizens, U.S. corporations, and certain persons who participate in U.S. government expeditions visiting or operating in Antarctica, as well as U.S. citizens who handle certain Antarctic animals and plants, and other persons handling Antarctic animals and plants while in the U.S.

The act makes it: “(…) unlawful, unless authorized by permit, to:

  1. take native mammals or birds
  2. enter specially designated areas
  3. introduce nonindigenous species to Antarctica
  4. use or discharge designated pollutants
  5. discharge wastes
  6. import certain antarctic items into the United States”


Antarctic Conservation Act Wikipedia

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