Monday, 5 January 2015

No aliens in Antarctica please: IAATO

#expeditioncruising




The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) is offering guidance to all potential visitors on how to avoid accidently introducing alien species and external diseases to the unique Antarctic environment.

Over a decade ago IAATO recognized that the threat of introducing alien (non-native) species and pathogens could be elevated with increased human activity in Antarctica. They pioneered research into understanding the risks and developed effective procedures and guidelines for all visitors, not just tourists.

IAATO Executive Director, Dr Kim Crosbie, says, “Although there is no conclusive evidence that visitors have introduced alien species or external diseases, IAATO has long been concerned about the potential for visitors to be vectors. As part of our mission to conduct environmentally responsible travel, for several years we’ve worked with the science community to understand the risks better and develop procedures and guidance for anyone visiting Antarctica.”

Guidance for visitors includes:

• Before you go: The guidance is simple – take it new or take it clean. ‘Don’t Pack a Pest’  pre-departure information explains how and why all equipment, boots and clothing should be cleaned, vacuumed and disinfected before you head south.

• In Antarctica: Equipment, boots and clothing should be cleaned, disinfected and dried between each visitor site and between regions. IAATO operators, have biosecurity procedures in place for their clients, for example, if travelling by ship or yacht, wash stations are set up for use by everyone before and after landings. These stations use an IAATO approved biocide. To find out what is involved see http://iaato.org/decontamination-guidelines

• Remaining vigilant: All visitors are asked to report any suspicious looking organisms and or signs for invasive species. Additionally, IAATO also has a response package in place should a high wildlife mortality event be discovered to ensure a fast response and prevention of any spread of disease.