New Zealand Yearbook of International Law
In May 2003 the Government adopted a Policy Statement on Tourism and Other Non-Governmental Activities in Antarctica, which is set out below, as the basis for New Zealand’s approach to the future management of these activities. This statement followed on from the Revised New Zealand Statement of Strategic Interest in Antarctica adopted in May 2002 as the umbrella policy statement guiding the development of further detailed policies. The Statement of Strategic Interest, inter alia, expressed New Zealand’s commitment to conservation of the “intrinsic wilderness values of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean”, and “ensuring all activity is undertaken in a manner consistent with Antarctica’s status as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science”.
The expansion and diversification of tourism and non-governmental activities in Antarctica has raised concerns among the Antarctic Treaty Parties about the future management of such activities. The Treaty Parties agreed that tourism should be thoroughly discussed at the XXVIth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting held in Madrid from 9 to 20 June 2003. The adoption of the New Zealand Policy Statement was an important part of New Zealand’s preparation for this discussion.
The concerns which influenced the content of the statement included the cumulative environmental impacts of tourism and non-governmental activities in Antarctica, safety, and possible jurisdictional issues arising from the development of land-based accommodation for tourists in Antarctica. These jurisdictional issues were seen as potentially posing a challenge to the modus vivendi under Article IV of the Antarctic Treaty on territorial claims and sovereignty.
As an outcome of the discussion at the Madrid Treaty Meeting, the Treaty Parties decided to convene a Meeting of Experts on Tourism and Non-Governmental Activities (Decision 5 (2003)). Norway offered to host the meeting in Tromso from 22 to 25 March 2004. The terms of reference for the meeting included:
Monitoring, cumulative impact and Environmental Impact
Safety and self-sufficiency, including search and rescue and
Jurisdiction, industry self-regulation, and an analysis of the
existing legal framework and the identification of gaps;
Adventure (extreme) tourism and government sponsored tourism; and
Co-ordination amongst national operators.
The Treaty Parties also agreed by the same Decision to establish an Inter-Sessional Contact Group to consider a database on tourism and non-governmental activities.
* Head Antarctic Policy Unit, NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade.
NEW ZEALAND POLICY STATEMENT
New Zealand’s policy statement reads as follows:
Consistent with Antarctica’s status as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science, and the obligation to minimise the environmental impacts of all activities, New Zealand will work within the Antarctic Treaty System to limit tourism and other non-governmental activities in Antarctica, and to ensure that where they do occur they are conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner by:
Seeking the strengthening, and where appropriate the addition, of the means to manage effectively, and where necessary control, tourism and other non-governmental activities in Antarctica. A particular aim should be to ensure all such activities are assessed before commencement for the highest possible prevention of incident standards and have in place credible and effective response mechanisms should an incident occur;
Avoiding the promotion of any further expansion of Antarctic tourism, and supporting limits on visitation of sites where cumulative impacts are likely to lead to deterioration;
Opposing any expansion of permanent or semi-permanent land-based tourism in Antarctica, especially in the Ross Dependency;
Continuing to limit the extent of government support to tourist and other non-governmental expeditions to Antarctica to humanitarian assistance and basic hospitality (such as short visits to Scott base).
Tourism and Other Non-Governmental Activities in Antarctica
New Zealand Yearbook of International Law