19 - Current and future problems arising from activities in the Antarctic  pp. 201-210

Current and future problems arising from activities in the Antarctic

By J.A. Heap

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Introduction

The more important current activities in the Antarctic are:

  • i) scientific research (that is scientific observation and measurement);
  • ii) science logistics (ships, aircraft and stations and their respective activities necessary for the pursuit of scientific research in Antarctica);
  • iii) tourism (activities of all those whose primary purpose in being in Antarctica, whether they paid for the privilege or not, is aesthetic enjoyment); and
  • iv) fishing exploitation of any Antarctic marine living resources.

Among possible future activities are:

  • i) exploration for Antarctic mineral resources and their possible exploitation; and
  • ii) the removal of ice in the form of icebergs to provide water in areas of the world where there is not enough.

One of the primary purposes of the Antarctic Treaty states is to ensure that ‘Antarctica shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes’ and that it ‘shall not become the scene or object of international discordrsquo;. In order to secure the first of these objectives, the Treaty provides for the demilitarisation of the Antarctic, for the provision of information about national activities in Antarctica and for international inspection of national activities to ensure that the uses to which Antarctica is being put are exclusively peaceful. These provisions of the Treaty have proved effective. Inspections have been carried out and no activities have been found which are inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the Treaty. None of the current problems in Antarctica arise out of conflict between the inherent nature of the activities going on there and the provision for exclusively peaceful use.