Natural resources

An individual krill lit against a black background
Researchers found new krill populations during the BROKE-West voyage (Photo: Rob King)

The issues of prospecting, and the future uses of Antarctic resources - both non-living and living - bring an economic element to the care of Antarctica.

  • Discuss the economic value of Antarctica. What resources are being used or could be used in the future (such as minerals - including oil, tourism, whales, seals, fish, krill, icebergs)? You could extend this discussion to the economic value of research, such as bioprospecting.
  • Ask students to adopt a position and prepare and present an argument related to one of the following issues,  perhaps for a class debate:
    • Antarctica is the last frontier on earth. Australia has a justifiable claim to 42% of it and should exploit that claim for the economic benefit of its people.
    • The Southern Ocean is a unique and delicate ecosystem that has developed over a long time to its present state of balance. As the last remaining wilderness on earth, as yet unspoiled by man's exploitation, it should be left alone, exactly as it is.
    • The Southern Ocean holds an abundance of the rich and nutritious food that may supply the protein needs of a world where food is increasingly precious. People come first and every effort to harvest this valuable food source should be made as soon as possible.
    • Who owns Antarctica and its riches?
  • Design a survey to ascertain:
    • whether people want Antarctica kept in its relatively unaltered state
    • whether Antarctic resources, living and mineral, should be exploited
    • whether tourism should be allowed
    • what forms of tourism should be permitted.
  • Survey other students and members of the public (ensure that at least five different age groups are represented).
    • What similarities and differences were there between your opinion and the opinions of these people?
    • What are the reasons for the similarities and the differences?
  • Research the harvesting of krill from the waters around Antarctica. (See also activities on krill.)
  • Research the 'scientific' harvesting of whales by Japan and Norway. (See also activities on whales.)
  • Debate the use of icebergs as a source of fresh water. Could icebergs be used to solve Australia's water supply problems? (See also activities in the 'Climate' unit.)

Further information

Issue - Animal research

Heart disease is the biggest killer of adult Australians. What should we do if scientists find a substance in seal blubber that will prevent heart disease?

This page was last modified on January 23, 2014.