Representatives of 29 countries, including several South American nations, agreed to stem unauthorized tourism to Antarctica in an effort to curb contamination on the so-called “White Continent.”
During an annual meeting held in Buenos Aires in early August, members of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs, a group established in 1988 that includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay, said they would prohibit unauthorized tourism operators from bringing travelers to Antarctica.
Members of the group, which is composed of signatory nations to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and headed by Chilean José Retamales Espinoza, said they would coordinate their national plans to stamp out contamination caused by both tourists and participants on scientific missions.
An estimated 40,000 people visit the continent every year.
According to the treaty, Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa are tasked having primary responsibility for rescue missions in Antarctica.
In addition to expected carbon emissions, the group´s members worried about unexpected environmental impacts, pointing to the MS Explorer cruise ship, a tourist liner that sunk in 2007 in Antarctic waters, carrying 185,000 liters of marine diesel.
Last year, the United Nations International Maritime Organisation´s Marine Environment Protection Committee proposed a complete ban on the transport of heavy grade oil and tar within Antarctic waters. Lighter fuel, which was used by the MS Explorer, evaporates more quickly.
Temperatures in Antarctica have risen 2 degrees Celsius over the past five decades, six times higher than the rest of the planet.