The purpose of this paper is to clarify the concept of “representativeness” in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) design and to review discussions and agreements at CCAMLR meetings relating to its application to the designation of a representative system of MPAs in the Southern Ocean. In 2005, CCAMLR endorsed advice from the Scientific Committee, which noted that representative areas, defined as “areas that would aim to provide a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of MPAs to contribute to the long-term ecological viability of marine systems, to maintain ecological processes and systems, and to protect the Antarctic marine biological diversity at all levels” would contribute to furthering the objectives of CCAMLR.
The principle of representativeness aims to ensure that differences in particular ecosystems or habitats in a particular region are captured within a system of MPAs. A key part of the process of creating a representative system of MPAs is the identification of representative areas of biodiversity through biogeographic analysis in a systematic conservation planning process. The value of biogeographic analysis for representative Southern Ocean MPAs is reflected through CCAMLR’s commitment to bioregionalisation, and this analysis has subsequently underpinned the whole process of MPA development within CCAMLR. Thus, CCAMLR has extensively considered and refined the concept of representativeness in the past 10 years.