Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tourism - good or bad?!

Yesterday at work, I spent a lot of time finishing up the IWC mailings I talked about in my last post. The envelope stuffing wasn't terrible exciting but if it helps to protect the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary then it was worth it.

I also spent some time talking with journalists. One television station in Ukraine asked ASOC for pictures on human impact in Anarctica, so I gathered together all relevant pictures and emailed them to her. If you want to see some examples, check out the ASOC Flickr account (there is some beautiful photography on there).

Another conversation I had was with a reporter from TV3 in New Zealand (where I plan to study abroad next semester!) asking about tourism and the Ocean Nova, a tourist cruise ship that ran aground on February 17th (it was re-floated by the tide earlier today). Though there were no spills (i.e. no tears in the bottom of the ship from dragging on the rocks) and no injuries to anyone on-board, this incident is another example of why we need to start regulating tourism in the Antarctic. Every year, there are an increasing number of tourists going down to the region during only a small window of time (their summer, our winter...). The 2007-08 numbers are somewhere around 46,000. Also, due in part to less ice because of global warming, people are now able to access more remote places. This means more areas of the continent (and consequently, more animals and plants) could be damaged due to human interference.

It's hard to know where to draw the lines, though. It's great that people can visit Antarctica so they can appreciate its beauty, but we need to also prevent them from destroying it in the process. I'm going to do some research on the subject and on ASOC's take on tourism, and post next time with some well-thought-out feelings on the issue.

Have a great weekend!

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