South Georgia Newsletter, June – July 2017

This newsletter is not produced by GSGSSI; it does not necessarily reflect their views.
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New South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands Commissioner Appointed

NigelPhillipsMr Nigel Phillips CBE has been appointed Her Majesty’s Commissioner for South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands in succession to Mr Colin Roberts CVO. The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands looks forward to welcoming Mr Phillips when he takes up his appointment in September 2017.

Further details of Mr Phillips appointment can be found at:

Annual Biosecurity Review 2016/2017

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands has released the results of its annual biosecurity review.

Ensuring South Georgia’s biodiversity is protected from invasive species is a high priority for GSGSSI who remain constantly alert to new biosecurity threats and to ensure policies remain up to date and reflect best practice standards. In order to achieve this, each year GSGSSI undertakes an annual review of biosecurity.

You can read the full media release here. The 2017-18 Biosecurity Handbook, which contains details of GSGSSI’s current biosecurity policies, can be downloaded here.

Heritage Framework and Strategy

The Government published its consultation on a draft Heritage Framework and Strategy for South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. Responses are invited by close Friday 18 August.

The Heritage Framework and Strategy has been prepared by heritage consultants Purcell. It was commissioned by the Government following the publication of its 5-year Strategy 2016-2020. The Heritage Framework and Strategy sets out a conservation philosophy and a set of conservation principles that will form the basis of future policy and decision-making on cultural heritage matters. It also sets out a draft strategy to enable the Government to meet its heritage objectives.

The Consultation Letter on Heritage Strategy and the Draft Heritage Framework and Strategy can be downloaded here.

Albatross Conservation Stamps Launched

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands has launched its latest stamp issue ‘Albatross Conservation’. The stamps have been developed in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to raise awareness about the conservation status of South Georgia albatross and the joint work being undertaken to better understand and protect these iconic birds.


Through the strict implementation of various conservation measures including bird-scaring devices the mortality of albatross in South Georgia waters has been reduced to zero. Incidental mortality associated with fisheries operating outside of South Georgia’s maritime zone is still high and thought to be the main cause of the recent population declines.

Further details here.

Mapping Conservation Priority Areas in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands


GSGSSI, in collaboration and consultation with stakeholders and experts, plan to run a spatial prioritisation project from mid May 2017 to early 2018. The UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) will provide technical assistance to the project.

The aim of the project is to adopt a data-led, precautionary approach to propose a terrestrial network of protected areas that provides for sustainable use of the environment while meeting a series of conservation goals agreed by the GSGSSI and the island’s key stakeholders. The designations will contribute towards GSGSSI’s commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and take forward one of our objectives under the 5-year Strategy 2016-2020.

Further details here.

GSGSSI Bids Farewell to Richard McKee


At the end of June we bade farewell to Richard McKee, stalwart of GSGSSI, first employed as Marine Officer at South Georgia and then Executive Officer and Director of Operations in Stanley.  Richard has been a passionate advocate of South Georgia and in recent years has overseen the development of the Government’s tourism and heritage policies alongside running our day to day operations. His experience and expertise has been of huge benefit to the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of South Georgia and to our visitors keen to experience it – tourists, scientists and expeditions alike. We wish him well as he leaves to take on new challenges and hope that he will continue to remain engaged in South Georgia issues.

Staff News

Director of Operations Appointment

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands have announced that Steve Brown has been appointed to the position of Director of Operations. Steve has a long professional association with South Georgia dating back over 15 years, which includes technical and management positions within BAS and works project teams at Grytviken and King Edward Point.  Steve has most recently been delivering a major infrastructure project on Tristan da Cunha prior to which he was Director of Operations for Ascension Island Government.

Originally appointed as Works & Heritage Manager, Steve’s new role as Director of Operations will provide oversight of operations, works and heritage as well as tourism and visitor management.  The Government is looking to enhance capacity in support of the Director of Operations on which it expects to make a further announcement in due course. The Government looks forward to welcoming Steve to the role in September who succeeds Richard McKee.

Policy on the Release and Movement of Artefacts 2017

South Georgia has a unique heritage, which includes the remains of the former whaling stations and their historic buildings, wrecks and hulks, sealing artefacts, early expeditions and sites of historic interest. There are important links to polar exploration and science, including Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The policy on the release of heritage artefacts from SGSSI has been developed by the Government pursuant to the GSGSSI’s 5 year strategy. This policy has undergone a public consultation and GSGSSI has also consulted closely with the Heritage Advisory Panel on a number of occasions throughout this process.

You can read more on the consultation here; the policy document can be downloaded here.

Report Published on Heavy Fuel Oil and Bunkering Activity within the SGSSI Maritime Zone

The Government has now taken receipt of a report by Constantia Consulting on heavy fuel oil and bunkering activity at South Georgia. The report was commissioned by the Government earlier this year in line with objectives set out in its 5-year Strategy. Constant Consulting was awarded the contract following a competitive tendering process, and undertook a strategic environmental assessment of the risks posed by the carriage and use of heavy fuel oils and bunkering activity, taking into account the nature of South Georgia’s environment. The report identifies recommendations for consideration by the Government, which intends to develop proposals for consultation with stakeholders in the coming months.

Download the report here.

Information for Visitors to South Georgia

The ‘Information for Visitors to South Georgia’ document has now been updated for 2017-2018 and is available to download here.

Island Invasives Conference 2017

islandInvasivesThere were over 44 countries represented at the Island Invasives Conference in Dundee in July. This was the third in a series of international conferences focused on invasive alien species on islands, their impact and management.

Awareness of the damaging impact of invasive species is growing rapidly, just as the problem itself is growing. Island flora and fauna tend to be particularly vulnerable to invasive alien species, and many insular endemics have been driven to extinction by these invaders. But, by their very nature, islands may also offer the possibility of long-term refuge and security if alien species can be eradicated or effectively controlled.

The conference was jointly hosted by the South Georgia Heritage Trust and the University of Dundee and was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal. The UK minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, Lord Gardiner, was present for the first day and addressed the conference saying, “Invasive non-native species threaten the survival of plants and animals around the world and conferences like this are vital for sharing global expertise and bringing countries together to tackle the problem. We are helping our overseas territories protect their precious plants and wildlife and the UK will keep investing and working with the international community and other partners to defend biodiversity at home and abroad.”

During the conference Professor Tony Martin, Professor of Animal Conservation at the University of Dundee and former Director of the South Georgia Heritage Trust’s Habitat Restoration Project, gave a public lecture, “Reclaiming South Georgia”, on the remarkable story of the largest ever island rodent eradication project., twitter


conference1 conference2 conference3

New PhD Studentship On Albatross Conservation

GSGSSI is pleased to be supporting a PhD studentship on albatross conservation in partnership with NERC, BAS and RSPB. The project will take place over 3 years from October 2017. It will examine the factors affecting patterns of movement and habitat use within and between different species tracked from South Georgia in support of Government’s albatross Conservation Action Plans published earlier this year, and complement existing work to track albatross outside of the South Georgia Maritime Zone. The results of the project will directly contribute to albatross conservation at South Georgia and to the Government’s marine protected area objectives including by providing more specific information to support the sustainable management of South Georgia’s fisheries.

Cooking up a storm at King Edward Point Research Station

By Jerry Gillham, station leader at King Edward Point Research Station, BAS

With no dedicated chef at King Edward Point we take it in turns to do our bit in the kitchen. This can be a bit daunting for some, especially on Saturdays as you can find yourself making a three-course meal for up to 30 people. This season though everyone has risen to the task, pushing themselves with more and more impressive dishes, no matter how mad pastry-making seems to make them.

So with station being a little quieter over the winter I decided to issue a challenge – can you make a meal based around one letter? We took the eight most appropriate letters and drew one each from a pot. Straight away the discussions started and the debates waged back and forth; do we use generic names like ‘cheese’, or should it be a specific kind like ‘brie’, or are brand names acceptable? Due to our limited range of frozen, tinned and dried foods we decided that whichever way you wanted to push the boundaries to make a nice meal we would be happy with.


Dave, our electrician, surveying his ingredients before embarking on his single-letter cooking challenge.

There had been no insistence that this should be a special Saturday meal so full credit for Kieran, the first to go with his ‘Brilliant Banquet Menu of B’. Not content with making two starters, a pudding (including ‘blue cream’, which turned out to be normal cream with blue food colouring in) and cheese course, he asked everyone to dress up as something starting with B. Hence the meal was attended by Batman, Bane, a Banana, Bodybag, Blackbird and Brian Harvey from East 17. Sadly no photos are available to testify to the occasion.

As the meals went on they became more and more impressive, with everything reflecting the selected letter; games and riddles, wine or cocktail accompaniments, musical accompaniment.

Other highlights included Fraser’s desserts; Port & Pimms Poached Pears and a Peach & Pernod Popsicle, Jerry’s home-made Rum & Raisin ice cream and Vicki’s Tapenade. Local produce was utilised with South Georgia Reindeer and Toothfish finding their way onto the menus.


Paddy, our boating officer, offers some calming words to Dave as he rescues his chilli pineapple..

Perhaps the hardest letter turned out to be N but Paddy put his all into it, with a range of nuts and Nido milk powder.

It has been a fun project, with plenty of conjecture and talk about what meals would be possible. The question is what do we do next? The next most common letters? Numbers? Draw ingredients out of a hat?

SGSSI in the News

South Georgia working with UN Environment program on terrestrial protected areas

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) has embarked on an exciting new collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) to develop a series of protected areas for South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands.


Value-added South Georgia Toothfish promoted at the world’s largest food service trade show

Georgia Seafoods Ltd, a longline fishing company that participates in the South Georgia Toothfish fishery, has teamed up with local fish processor the Falkland Islands Fish Company to develop a line of value-added South Georgia Toothfish products.


How Does Ocean Circulation Impact Marine Protected Areas?

Researchers at the National Oceanography Center (NOC) studying the U.K.’s four largest Marine Protected Areas have found that, because of the ocean’s vigorous circulation, even remote, seemingly pristine habitats, are not isolated from human activities, and may be vulnerable to pollution and overfishing impacts.


Eradicating invasive species is essential for island conservation

The South Georgia Heritage Trust and the University of Dundee hosted 300 delegates from 43 countries to share a global picture of the world’s islands where ecosystems can hang in the balance.


Scottish charity saves population of birds from marauding rats

A tiny Scottish charity has saved a population of birds on a small sub-Antarctic island from being wiped out by millions of marauding rats.


There’s more than one way to take a cruise, and sometimes smaller is better

The cruise on the Ocean Endeavor included stops in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, the Antarctic Peninsula and crossing the Antarctic Circle. The ship is configured for a maximum of 199 passengers, with 130 crew members.


Where to Travel Aboard Small-Ship Ocean Cruises

On South Georgia, guests can spot king penguins, fur seals, elephant seals, macaroni and gentoo penguins, while in the Falklands, an array of albatross await. In Antarctica, guests will hike, Zodiac, cross-country ski and kayak.


Quark Expeditions goes beyond this season with a new luxury ship, new photography trips and expanded itineraries

Polar expeditions company Quark Expeditions® revealed its NEW Antarctica program for the 2018-2019 season, which includes the announcement of World Explorer, their new luxury, all-suites ship, an expanded Falklands & South Georgia itinerary, and two brand new photography trips.


One Ocean Expands 2018-2019 Antarctica Program

A choice of either a 14-night or a 16-night itinerary is also now available on South Georgia in Depth cruises, both of which spend eight days exploring South Georgia’s east coast.


Hard but worth it: researchers fight invasives on Subantarctic islands

The British in 2015 completed what appears to be the largest successful eradication project in history by ridding the 1,050 square kilometer (405 square mile) South Georgia Island of rats at a cost of $9.7 million.


The Golden Age of Antarctic Exploration

Navigation was particularly difficult, with only a few sightings of the sun and missing South Georgia altogether would have meant certain death.


Audio diaries detail Tom Crean’s grandaughter’s arduous journey in his footsteps

When Aileen Crean-O’Brien set out to retrace the footsteps of her grandfather Tom Crean’s trip to the sub-Antarctic island South Georgia, she had no idea of what lay ahead of her.


Chasing Ernest: A Journey to South Georgia to Find the Ghost of Shackleton

Twelve hundred miles off the southernmost tip of South America, there is a legendary place among travelers and historians. They speak of South Georgia Island in hushed, almost reverent terms.


A-68 is breaking up: NASA images show newly-created iceberg the size of Delaware has already lost several smaller pieces

It will most likely follow a northeasterly course, heading roughly for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands,’ said Thomas Rackow from the Alfred Wegener Institute.

Adventures in Climate Change

Dr. Paul Mayewski, Brooklin resident and Director of the University of Maine Climate Change Institute in Orono, has led research expeditions in far-flung regions like the Antarctica, Greenland and South Georgia Island to drill ice core samples used to determine historic levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and climate stability.


Steve Wozniak Will Headline 24-Day Luxury Cruise to Antarctica

Apple cofounder and designer of the Apple I and Apple computers, Steve Wozniak, will headline a luxury cruise in December of this year.


Book review: ‘Last Man Off’ details remarkable survival in ‘hostile place’

In spite of worsening conditions well into their months-long stint off the remote South Georgia Island, the Sudur Havid took on more fuel, as the captain was reluctant to turn back without a hold full of the valuable fish, which would equal larger paychecks for everyone upon return to South Africa.


Whisky created as testament to Shackleton

Whyte and Mackay has launched Shackleton blended Scotch malt whisky, inspired by one of the 20th centuries most charismatic leaders – a whisky for those who aren’t afraid to go their own way.

Latest Videos and Photos

Happy World Oceans Day from Bird Island.


Sub-Antarctic South Georgia


Leopard seal at King Edward Cove. Photo Emma Jones.


South Georgia pintails in record numbers following the SGHT rat eradication project. Photo Emma Jones.