Antarctic guideline to curb eco-footprint
China has released a guideline on protecting the environment and ecology of Antarctica by regulating Chinese tourist and research activities on the continent.
Hunting wild animals, construction, entry into special conservation areas, collection of soil and rock samples, and bringing in hazardous materials are all banned under the guideline, issued Friday by the State Oceanic Administration, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The guideline indicates that the administration is responsible for management of environmental protection and all activities in the Antarctic including research, tourism, adventure, fishery and transportation.
"The State Oceanic Administration will limit the volume of Antarctic activities according to the environmental carrying capacity of the Antarctic," the guideline reads.
The rule was effective upon its release on Friday, the administration said.
China has witnessed an Antarctica tourism boom, from barely 100 visitors in 2005 to 5,300 in 2017. China ranks second in Antarctica tourist numbers after the US, Xinhua said.
Chinese people now are more willing and capable to travel to the Antarctic for adventure and tourism, Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times.
"As the ecology in the Antarctic is extremely fragile, the effect of human activities in Antarctic could be much greater than in other places," Ma said.
"The guideline shows China is a responsible country when it comes to protecting the Antarctic," he noted.
At the 40th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in May, the Chinese government reiterated its commitment to peaceful development and research of Antarctica, according to Xinhua.
There are 53 parties to the Antarctic Treaty, which China joined in 1983.