Summary – The Antarctic between the conflicting priorities of scientific research, tourism, and environmental protection:
The Antarctic continent with its surrounding waters south of 60 °S is protected by the Antarctic Treaty (1961), a special regime, which dedicates the Antarctic for peaceful uses only and for scientific research. The protection of the Antarctic environment is of high priority (Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty and Act implementing the Protocol of Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty : all activities have to be carried out environment friendly.
Especially in areas with high density of Antarctic stations, high biodiversity and the expansion of airstrips, the question is how negative impacts to the Antarctic environment can be prevented. In areas frequently used by cruise tourism and sailing boats so-called “Visitor Site Guidelines” for landing sites help to avoid further adverse impacts to the Antarctic environment.
However, commercial tourism got more divers, with activities like marathon, mountain biking, climbing and diving. Accident risks increase, the introduction of non-native species has been approved. Against this background and the effects of climate change, e.g. the rapid changes of ice shelves near the Antarctic Peninsula, measures for the protection of the Antarctic environment are all the more required.