Nations set new tourism limits for Antarctica

Apr 19, 2009 By MATTHEW LEE , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- Countries with interests in Antarctica have endorsed U.S.-proposed mandatory limits on Antarctic tourism that aim to protect the continent's fragile environment, officials said Friday.

At the conclusion of a two-week meeting in Baltimore, Md., the parties to the 50-year-old Antarctic Treaty agreed to impose binding restrictions on the size of cruise ships that land passengers there and the number of people they can bring ashore at any one time, the officials said. The move mandates, under international law, current voluntary limits.

The changes will become legally binding once each of the 28 nations that have signed the treaty ratify them. The revisions were adopted by consensus with no opposition and no hurdles to ratification are expected, said Evan Bloom, the head of the U.S. delegation.

The restrictions do not contain a specific enforcement mechanism or penalties for limiting tourist operations. But they will require signatories to the pact to ensure that Antarctic tour operators bar ships with more than 500 passengers from landing sites, restrict landings to one vessel at a time per site and limit passengers on shore to 100 at a time.

They also mandate a minimum of one guide for every 20 tourists while ashore, according to the documents.

Limiting tourist access to the continent has taken on urgency because of a surge in visits and recent cruise ship accidents, including two groundings in the just-finished 2008-09 season and the highly publicized sinking of a vessel in November 2007.

The International Association of Tour Operators says visits have risen from 6,700 in the 1992-93 season to 29,500 in the 2006-07 season and 45,213 in 2008-09.

Members of the association first developed the restrictions, adhere to them voluntarily and supported the proposal to make them mandatory.

---

On the Net:

Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty: http://www.ats.aq/index-e.htm

Treaty background: http://www.scar.org/treaty/

International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators: http://www.iaato.org/

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US wants limits on Antarctic tourism

Apr 05, 2009

(AP) -- The Obama administration is pushing to protect Antarctica's fragile environment by imposing mandatory limits on the size of cruise ships sailing there and the number of passengers they bring ashore.

Observing sustainable tourism in Antarctica

Feb 22, 2008

“Antarctica is the ultimate destination for anyone interested in natural history but it also challenges those people who visit to think broadly about our responsibilities to all life on Earth.” That’s the view of Dr ...

Recommended for you

Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

20 hours ago

In an industrial area outside Kenya's capital city, workers in hard hats and white masks take shiny new power drills to computer parts. This assembly line is not assembling, though. It is dismantling some ...

New paper calls for more carbon capture and storage research

Aug 22, 2014

Federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must involve increased investment in research and development of carbon capture and storage technologies, according to a new paper published by the University of Wyoming's ...

Coal gas boom in China holds climate change risks

Aug 22, 2014

Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob_Kob
1 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2009
Whats the point of preserving wildlife, land etc when we cant even see what we're protecting?

Damon_Hastings
not rated yet Apr 21, 2009
Whats the point of preserving wildlife, land etc when we cant even see what we're protecting?

Yeah, I know, it's almost as if these governments don't realize that the sole purpose of animals' existence is to entertain human tourists.