US pushes for limits on tourism
A massive ice shelf is ‘imminently’ close to breaking away from part of the Antarctic Peninsula, said scientists investigating whether the break-up is caused by global climate change. Satellite images released by the European Space Agency last week show new cracks in the Wilkins Ice Shelf where it connects to Charcot Island. Wilkins is about half the area of Scotland and is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pushing to protect Antarctica’s fragile environment by imposing mandatory limits on the size of yachts and cruise ships sailing there and the number of passengers they bring ashore. She is proposing an amendment to the 50-year-old Antarctic Treaty that would seek to mandate, under international law, the current voluntary restrictions on tourism.
The move would seek to mandate, under international law, the current voluntary restrictions on tourism. The proposal contains no specific enforcement mechanism or penalties for limiting tourist operations. But it would require signatories to the pact to ensure that tour operators bar large ships from landing sites, restrict landings to one vessel at a time per site and limit passengers on shore. Similar controls are in place in the Galapagos Islands.