Founded in 1978, ASOC is the only non-governmental organization working full time to preserve the Antarctic continent and its surrounding Southern Ocean. A coalition of over 30 NGOs interested in Antarctic environmental protection, ASOC represents the environmental community at Antarctic governance meetings and works to promote important Antarctic conservation goals. Though Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are far away, we believe that the continent and its surrounding ocean are the natural heritage of all humankind and seek to ensure that Antarctic ecosystems - both terrestrial and marine - remain protected and intact. Our two major campaigns are creation of a network of large Marine Protected Areas (carried out in cooperation with the Antarctic Ocean Alliance), and negotiation of a legally binding Polar Code that covers all vessels operating in the Southern Ocean. ASOC monitors all issues that impact the Antarctic, including climate change, tourism, fisheries management, biological prospecting and pirate fishing. Present campaigns include negotiation of a legally-binding Polar Code regulating all vessels operating in the Antarctic; establishing a representative network of marine reserves by 2012, including Marine Protected Area status for the Ross Sea; managing Southern Ocean Fisheries sustainably, including krill - the base of the Antarctic food web; regulating Antarctic tourism and biological prospecting; strengthening the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary; and monitoring implementation of the Environment Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty. ASOC employs campaigners all over the world who are experts on Antarctic environmental issues and who work closely with the countries who have a major presence in the Antarctic. ASOC also raises public awareness through this website, our blog, The Antarctica Blog, media releases and campaign advocacy. Antarctica is the world's most extreme continent - the coldest, driest, and windiest - yet is the home or feeding grounds for millions of penguins, whales, and seals. Its breathtaking scenery often renders visitors speechless. It is the "last continent," that is, the only remaining continent without a significant human presence or widespread impact on the environment. We urge you to learn more about this unique place and how you can help us ensure that the Antarctic and its magnificent species receive the highest level of environmental protection possible.