South Georgia Town Meeting Summary
At the start of the millennium the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) commissioned the British Antarctic Survey to design, build and operate a new base at King Edward Point on South Georgia. The prime purpose of this base is to undertake applied fisheries research in support of management of commercial fisheries in the SGSSI Maritime Zone. The fishery is managed in the context of the regional fisheries management organisation the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) which operates on precautionary principles guided by scientific evidence. In 2001 the base was opened by the Commissioner of SGSSI and it replaced the military garrison at King Edward Point which had been established in 1982.
The Government of SGSSI now seeks to expand the range of scientific research at King Edward point and make the facilities available for science projects at rates that are comparable with those at similarly equipped facilities at other remote locations.
There is a long history of science at South Georgia particularly since 1925 when research into the biology and ecology of whales and their environment began with the Discovery Investigations. After the whaling industry closed down operations in the 1960s scientific presence on the island was maintained until 1982 with the establishment of a BAS research base where BAS scientists, together with a number of scientific visitors, pursued research in marine and terrestrial biology, atmospheric science, geology and glaciology. At the BAS base on Bird Island, off the extreme northwest end off South Georgia, there has been long-term research on the seabird and seal populations which breed there and feed on the rich marine resources in the surrounding seas. Offshore in South Georgia waters there has been shipboard research in oceanography, geophysics and ocean ecology. Other monitoring and research in seismology and industrial archaeology continues up to the present.
The town meeting at BAS in September is being held to discuss science currently being done at South Georgia, to stimulate interest in the scientific opportunities that exist at King Edward Point and provide information on the accommodation, scientific facilities, logistic support, means of reaching the Island etc that prospective scientific visitors will need.