From white to blue – the role of the law in protecting and promoting Antarctic Blue Carbon

Closing Date

31st March 2020*

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

The Research Project

As the ice around Antarctica's coastlines retreats a vast 'blue carbon' (carbon captured and stored by marine ecosystems) sink in the form of living benthic biomass is emerging. Properly protected, this sink of continental shelf blue carbon promises to act as the planet's largest natural buffer against further climate change.  However, there are governance challenges to implementing such protection, including the unique territorial and governance framework for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. States with active national interests in Antarctica have put their territorial claims 'on hold' under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. This effectively limits the ability of any one state to protect blue carbon sites around Antarctica's coastlines. The consensus of all states in the key treaties of the Antarctic Treaty System is needed for new conservation measures to be formed. Given Antarctic blue carbon is emerging in areas of rich biomass, some states may object to protections that would lock up areas that will be commercially important to their national economies and food supplies now and into the future.

This project seeks to further ongoing work being conducted at the Faculty of Law on the legal challenges of protecting of Blue Carbon (see

The candidate is expected to work alongside an interdisciplinary team, to develop an understanding of the intersection between law, science, international relations and governance relevant to Antarctic blue carbon.

The project will involve exploring existing laws and potential governance frameworks and proposing best practice legal approaches to the protection and promotion of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Blue Carbon. This may necessarily include bottom up (individual state led) or top down (cooperative international law and governance) approaches.


The following eligibility criteria apply to this scholarship:

  • The scholarship is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international candidates;
  • Applicants must already have been awarded a First Class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications or relevant and substantial research experience in an appropriate sector;
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills.

Candidates from the Law discipline are eligible to apply.

Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the listed Supervisor.

Information and guidance on the application process can be found on the Apply Now website.

Information about scholarships is available on the Scholarships webpage.

More Information

Please contact Dr Jeffrey McGee for more information.

*unless filled earlier