HM Commissioner hosts South Georgia stakeholders

HM Commissioner for South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands, Colin Roberts CVO, departed this week for a 12-day visit to the UK Overseas Territory accompanied by representatives of some of South Georgia’s key stakeholder organizations. The information was reported in the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands Newsletter.

 The visit takes place on board the Government’s logistics and fishery patrol vessel MV Pharos SG and will have a particular focus on the natural environment. The visit will provide an opportunity to witness some of South Georgia’s recent projects to protect and enhance the environment such as in the fields of terrestrial conservation and sustainable fisheries management. It will also offer a chance to share views and experiences on emerging challenges and opportunities facing South Georgia and the broader sub-Antarctic including climate change and visitor management.

The visit will take in some of South Georgia’s human heritage too, including the whaling stations at Grytviken and Stromness Bay, and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition that concluded with the rescue of his men from Elephant Island a century ago.

Colin Roberts CVO, Commissioner for South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands said: “I’m delighted to be able to bring together this group of experienced stakeholders to witness South Georgia, and some of its recent projects, at first hand. In doing so I hope we will be able to share knowledge and experience in dealing with the challenges and opportunities facing South Georgia and the wider sub-Antarctic and further the Government’s commitment to world-class environmental management for this UK Overseas Territory.”

Joining the Commissioner on the visit will be representatives from the RSPB, WWF-UK, The Pew Trusts, British Antarctic Survey, Australian and Norwegian Governments, and UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Also accompanying for part of the visit will be an environmental journalist looking into the management of South Georgia’s MSC-certified sustainable toothfish fishery.

South Georgia sustains globally significant levels of biodiversity including major populations of marine mammals and seabirds, an attraction to over 8000 visitors who travel to this remote territory each year. Significant investment has recently been made to enhance and restore South Georgia’s native wildlife including through the world’s largest rodent eradication program led by the South Georgia Heritage Trust and the Government’s designation of one of the largest sustainable use Marine Protected Areas in the world.

The visit will also provide an opportunity to see some of South Georgia’s unique heritage which includes the remains of the former whaling stations and the historic buildings of the whaling communities up to the 1960s. A number of these buildings have been maintained as a result of collaboration with the Norwegian Government.