South Georgia Newsletter, April – May 2017

This newsletter is not produced by GSGSSI; it does not necessarily reflect their views.
To subscribe to the SGIsland News Alerts list click here

GSGSSI Embarks on New Collaboration with UNEP-WCMC on Terrestrial Protected Areas


This month GSGSSI embarked on an exciting new collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) to develop a series of protected areas for South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. Developing a suite of Terrestrial Protected Areas was identified as a high priority in the 2016-2020 strategy and we are delighted to be working with a highly acclaimed and internationally recognised organisation such as UNEP-WCMC in order to achieve this. The project will adopt a data-led precautionary approach and work with stakeholders to define conservation goals and put forward proposals for a network of protected areas.

The project will be based on the latest systematic conservation planning techniques, and use tools to assist in spatial prioritisation such as Marxan and Zonation. This approach will efficiently balance the multiple data sources including key biodiversity features, threats to biodiversity, geological features of importance, sites that are important for visitors or scientific research, heritage assets and wilderness areas.

An initial focus group is scheduled for July where representatives from key stakeholder groups will come together to discuss how best to approach the project and ensure that the best data are available to the UNEP-WCMC project team. After initial analysis, a two-step stakeholder consultation will be undertaken to ensure a transparent and clear process, discuss and agree on options and strategies to establish the network. These consultations are expected to take place in November 2017, and January 2018 and will include online presentations and questionnaires and we encourage all interested stakeholders to take part.

The project is scheduled to be completed by April 2018 and expected outputs are: 1) a technical report where candidate conservation sites are characterised and mapped including suggestions of where additional data and monitoring are required; 2) a database with all data collected through the project; 3) step by step guidance on how to incorporate new data into the system to re-run the analyses if needed when new data are available. The GSGSSI will use the outputs as a guide to formally designate terrestrial protected areas.

The project will demonstrate the contribution of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands to global conservation and development targets and goals, such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets on the Convention of Biological Diversity and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


In May, GSGSSI Operations Director Richard McKee presented the annual GSGSSI update to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) in Edinburgh. IAATO are a member organisation founded to advocate and promote the practice of safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic.

Some key points from his presentation:

  • For a second successive year, the latest visitors season has been the busiest to date with approximately 8,946 visitors arriving on 68 cruise ship visits. Importantly, no serious adverse incidents were reported.
  • A Medical Review, commissioned by GSGSSI, was completed and guidelines were provided to operators for planning the provision of medical care for visits to SGSSI.
  • Future projects update – oil remediation work; heritage review; the possibility of Dias/Viola being returned to Hull; progress of the new polar vessel.

The full update can be downloaded here.


cruise ship Le Soleal next to historic sealers Albatross and Dias

Photo: P. Lurcock.

Notice of Action Taken in Respect of Fishery Non-Compliances

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) has become aware of information relating to the conduct of one of the fishing vessels licensed to fish in the South Georgia Maritime Zone for the 2016 and 2017 fishing seasons. The matters of conduct include two counts of unlicensed fishing activity outside of the South Georgia Maritime Zone.

The Director of Fisheries has given careful consideration as to what action should be taken in relation to the conduct of the vessel. These considerations included the nature and seriousness of the non-compliances and the steps taken by the Charterer in response to them. The Director of Fisheries also considered the implication of these matters in relation to the effectiveness of the Charterer’s corporate oversight of fishery operations and due diligence, and in relation to the good management of the fishery.

Following careful consideration of all the circumstances of the conduct of the vessel, and the steps that the Charterer has taken in response to these matters, the Director of Fisheries has permitted the vessel to continue fishing in the South Georgia Maritime Zone for the remainder of the 2017 season subject to additional licence conditions. These conditions, which have been accepted by the Charterer, seek to maintain the high standards of operation, stewardship and sustainability in place within the South Georgia Maritime Zone.

The Director of Fisheries has additionally written to the vessel’s Flag State seeking their assurances as to the future good conduct of the vessel in the South Georgia Maritime Zone.

Invitation to Tender for Provision of a Trial Biosecurity Detector Dog Programme


The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands is seeking tenders from individuals or organisations to establish a trial of a biosecurity detector dog programme.

Based in the Falkland Islands, the trial programme will have a focus on rodent detection as part of the Government’s efforts to further enhance the protection of South Georgia’s globally significant biodiversity following a recent rodent eradication programme.

Full details here.

GSGSSI Staff News



Sue Gregory – Marine Environment and Fisheries Manager

Sue Gregory has joined the Government House team as interim Marine Environment and Fisheries Manager. Sue will join on secondment from the British Antarctic Survey where she is a fisheries ecologist for the King Edward Point project which is funded jointly by the Government and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Sue will be seconded to the team for 6 months to oversee the South Georgia fishing season and take forward some key policy developments. She takes over from Paul Brewin who left the Government in April having played a key role in the management of the fishery over the past 18 months.


jenni1Jenni Sol – Finance, Logistics and Administration Officer

Jenni has joined GSGSSI as Finance, Logistics and Administration Officer. Jenni has lived in Stanley for a number of years and has a range of experience from previous roles, most recently in the tourism industry.

Departures – Mark Lewis

Mark Lewis, Legal Adviser, departed the Government in May. Mark joined the team in 2014 to focus on taking forward the Government’s legislative review programme, established to modernise and develop key aspects of South Georgia’s statute book.  Mark has since overseen the recent introduction of legislation on Income Tax, Customs and Policing with legislation on Immigration and the Administration of Justice now prepared and awaiting legislative approval following stakeholder consultation. Mark has also been engaged in the development of our internal governance arrangements. We are grateful to Mark for taking forward these important aspects of our 5-year Strategy and wish him well for his future endeavours. The Government will be continuing to work closely with the Attorney General’s chambers to finalise the remaining legislative proposals.

Counting Albatrosses from Space

Wanderer Albatross chick

Led by experts at the British Antarctic Survey, scientists have started counting individual birds from space – this is the first time any species on Earth has had its entire global population assessed from orbit.

Using super-high resolution satellite imagery, researchers took photos of islands, zoomed in, and counted the white dots (albatrosses). The researchers first trialled the technique at Bird Island, South Georgia before applying it to Chatham Islands, New Zealand. There the team counted just over 3,600 nests – this was smaller than a manual count of 5,700 that was made in 2009.

The scientists report the satellite method in Ibis, a journal of the British Ornithologists’ Union.

Peter Fretwell, the researcher from the British Antarctic Survey who led the study, told Radio New Zealand that “the population of Northern Royal albatrosses on the Chatham islands was lower than we previously thought (but) single year’s breeding population may not be indicative of the whole population. Being able to do them every year by satellite, will give us a much better indication of what the true numbers are.”


HRH the Princess Royal to open Island Invasives Conference

PrincessRoyalHosted this year by the University of Dundee and the South Georgia Heritage Trust, the Island Invasives Conference will be the third in a series of international conferences focussed on invasive alien species on islands, their impact and management.

It has now been announced that HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of the South Georgia Heritage Trust, will formally open the Island Invasives 2017 Conference on the morning of Monday 10 July in the Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee.

The programme speakers have now been published:

SGSSI in the News

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Lost Fortune

By 1900 Shackleton found himself on a troopship and, by pure chance, in contact with the son of a wealthy father who was in the throes of financing Britain’s first foray into Antarctic waters (under the leadership of Captain Robert Falcon Scott RN).


Sea Spirit Fresh From $2.5 Million Refurbishment

Following the last Arctic voyage to East Greenland in mid-September of 2017, the vessel will position to South America to commence a series of expedition cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands during the 2017-18 austral summer season.


A Voyage to Remember

The South 2015 voyage was conceived by the Trust as a way of bringing families, Antarctic veterans (FIDS) and supporters to the dedication ceremony in the Falklands and then take them on a three-week voyage to South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula, visiting the bases where those who were lost both lived and worked.


Heading South! The Spirit Of Shackleton Antarctic Voyage

The trip takes you on quite an extraordinary 21-day excursion in which you will visit some of the most pristine and unspoiled lands on the planet. Along the way, guests will visit Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, and the island of South Georgia.


King penguin! Photographer captures awesome picture of chicks copying his pose

David Merron was on a trip to South Georgia when he stood with the colony of King penguins and got this incredible image

Latest Videos and Photos

Tony Martin, who directed the rat eradication programme in South Georgia, talks about the island.


Frolicking fur seals enjoying polar waters at South Georgia Island.


Photo: Emma Jones.


Celebrating all the colours of the rainbow – the Greene Peninsula bathed in golden light. Photo Emma Jones.


Photo Steve Artis.

Photo Steve Artis.

Diary Dates