Environmentalists demand regulations for Antarctic tourism | Polarjournal
Emperor penguins are particularly endangered by climate change and the melting ice. (Photo: Heiner Kubny)

In view of an increase in tourism in the Antarctic region, which is severely affected by climate change, environmental protection organizations are calling for countermeasures. The call is addressed to the participants of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties (ATCM) at the start of the meeting last Monday in Kochi, India, which will last until Thursday, May 30, 2024. Previous international efforts to improve the regulation of Antarctic tourism have largely failed.

The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, and the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat organized the meeting, which was attended by over 350 participants from almost 40 nations.

More and more tourists are visiting Antarctica. In the 22/23 season, there were over 100,000 visitors in the short season between November and April. (Photo: Heiner Kubny)

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Antarctic tourism has increased significantly since the early 1990s. Between 1992 and 2020, the number of arriving guests increased tenfold to 75,000. In the years 2022 to 2023, there were even just under 105,000 tourists.

Claire Christian, head of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition ASOC, the only non-governmental organization allowed to attend the meeting, says: “Formal regulation of tourism has been delayed for too long. However, the upcoming ATCM offers a crucial opportunity to finally adopt enforceable regulations and prevent impacts on Antarctica’s biodiversity .”

More tourists and research stations also mean more microplastics and wastewater entering the waters, the ASOC complains. In general, the bad news about the state of Antarctica continues unabated. Sea ice is melting rapidly in the region, fish stocks are massively overexploited, and avian influenza was recently detected there for the first time.

Claire Christian, Executive Director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC): “The Antarctic Conference offers a crucial opportunity to finally adopt enforceable regulations and prevent impacts on Antarctica’s biodiversity.” (Photo: Wilson Center)

The Antarctic Conference in India is attended by those states that have signed and ratified the Antarctic Treaty (ATCM). Among other things, it provides for the peaceful use of the continent and a ban on military activities. For years now, the Parties have also been discussing stricter control of human activities at the meetings, particularly in the area of tourism. This year’s 46th edition of the meeting now focuses on this demand.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
error: Content is protected !!
Share This