The Legal Need for an Antarctic Environmental Liability Regime

  • René Lefeber
Part of the Environment & Policy book series (ENPO, volume 28)


The already legally complex issue of the establishment of liability for damage to the environment is, in the Antarctic Treaty area, further complicated by the uncertain jurisdictional situation in the Antarctic and the fragility of its environment and dependent and associated ecosystems.1 This may be illustrated by the Bahia Paraiso oil spill which to date has been the most serious case of damage to the Antarctic environment.2 The Bahia Paraiso was a polar transporter and tourist vessel which was owned by the Argentine government and flew the Argentine flag. The vessel ran aground on 28 January 1989, 1.5 km from Bonaparte Point, near Palmer Station. Large slicks remained for two weeks after the spill, while small slicks persisted in coastal areas until March 1989. All components of the ecosystem were contaminated to varying degrees by the spill, including sediments, limpets, macroalgae, clams, bottom-feeding fish, and seabirds. A reported, possible indirect effect of the spill is a reproductive failure in a population of South Polar Skuas which has been ascribed to parental neglect. The effects of the spill were, however, limited in time and space.


Strict Liability Civil Liability Vienna Convention Irreparable Damage Liability Regime 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • René Lefeber

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