From the 1994 Grand Antarctic Circumnavigation brochure...

Laws Governing Antarctic Tourism

In addition to the Guidelines of Conduct for Antarctica Visitors adopted by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), all visitors should be aware of the Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora. This annex to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 addresses the protection of the environment and conservation of wildlife. Citizens of any government that has ratified the Antarctic Treaty are legally bound by the following guidelines of conduct in the region south of Latitude 60 degrees South:

Conservation of Wildlife

Animals and plants native to Antarctica are protected under the following five instruments outlined in the Agreed Measures:

  1. Protection of Native Fauna - Within the Treaty Area it is prohibited to kill, wound, capture or molest any native mammal or bird, or any attempt at such an act, except in accordance with a permit.
  2. Harmful Interference - Appropriate effort will be taken to ensure that harmful interference is minimized in order that normal living conditions of any native mammal or bird are protected. Harmful interference includes any disturbance of bird and seal colonies during the breeding period by persistent attention from persons on foot.
  3. Specially Protected Species - Special protection is accorded to Fur and Ross Seals.
  4. Specially Protected Areas (SPAs) - Areas of outstanding scientific interest are preserved in order to protect their unique natural ecological system. Entry to these areas is allowed by permit only.
  5. Introduction of Non-lndigenous Species, Parasites and Diseases - No species of animal or plant not indigenous to the Antarctic Treaty Area may be brought into the Area, except in accordance with a permit. All reasonable precautions have to be taken to prevent the accidental introduction of parasites and diseases into the Treaty Area.

National Legislation

Citizens of all countries that are parties to the Antarctic Treaty will be bound by their own country's national legislation governing their conduct in Antarctica. The countries concerned include all European Community members, as well as Japan, Canada, the United States, and many others. We highlight two pieces of relevant U.S. legislation below. Other countries' laws will have similar provisions.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 prohibits U.S. citizens from taking or importing marine mammals, or parts of marine mammals, into the U.S. Both accidental and deliberate disturbance of seals or whales may constitute harassment under the Act.

Further, the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978 (U.S. Public Law 95-541) was adopted by the U.S. Congress to protect and preserve the ecosystem, flora and fauna of the continent, and to implement the Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora. The Act sets forth regulations which are legally binding for U.S. citizens and residents visiting Antarctica.

Briefly, the Act provides the following:

In Antarctica the Act makes it unlawful, unless authorized by regulation or permit issued under this Act, to take native animals or birds, to collect any special native plant, to introduce species, to enter certain special areas (SPAs), or to discharge or dispose of any pollutants. To "take" means to remove, harass, molest, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, restrain, or tag any native mammal or native bird, or to attempt to engage in such conduct.

Under the Act, violations are subject to civil penalties, including a fine of up to $10,000 and one year imprisonment for each violation. The complete text of the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978 can be found in the ship's library.

The Marco Polo's captain, crew and staff will make certain that the Antarctic Conservation Act and the above guidelines are adhered to. By encouraging your fellow passengers to follow your environmentally conscious efforts you will help us to ensure that Antarctica will remain pristine for the enjoyment of future generations. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

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