Wp-21/Rev 1 Agenda Item: 11 Australia Original: English



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XXVII ATCM

Working Paper: WP-21/Rev 1

Agenda Item: 11

Australia

Original: English


Establishment of Effective Antarctic Quarantine


Controls for tourism and Non-government activities

Establishment of Effective Antarctic Quarantine


Controls for tourism and Non-government activities
1. As a contribution to the Antarctic Treaty Meeting of Experts on Antarctic Tourism and Non-Government Activities Australia prepared ATME Paper # 14 - Establishment of effective Antarctic quarantine controls for tourism and non-government activities (copy at Attachment A).
2. The paper notes that as the level of tourism in the Antarctic Treaty Area increases, there is an associated increase in the risk of introducing alien species, and of translocation of both endemic and alien species. Current procedures and guidelines for tourism and tourism operators, as outlined in the relevant ATCM resolutions and recommendations pursuant to the Antarctic Treaty and the Protocol are, however, limited with regard to achieving effective Antarctic quarantine controls. Accordingly, the absence of effective quarantine controls covering all tourism activities remains a significant concern.
3. There was insufficient time during the Meeting of Experts to consider this paper in detail and the Meeting referred the paper to CEP VII to consider, and provide advice to the ATCM.


ATTACHMENT A



ATME PAPER # 14


Establishment of Effective Antarctic Quarantine


Controls for tourism and Non-government activities
INTRODUCTION
As the level of tourism in the Antarctic Treaty area increases, there is an associated increase in the risk of introducing alien species, and of translocation of both endemic and alien species.

International experience shows that introductions and translocations of pest species or exotic pathogens may lead to significant adverse environmental, economic and social impacts. Unlike pollution impacts, which typically reduce over time, alien species introductions can have an increasing impact on local ecosystems and, over time, become increasingly difficult to eradicate or mitigate.


The majority of tourism activities are focused on the Antarctic Peninsula. IAATO reports that the number of visitors to Antarctica has roughly doubled between 1992-93 and 2002-03, with the estimated visitor numbers for 2003-04 expected to exceed 20,000.
IAATO has prepared guidelines for its members and tourists visiting Antarctica based on ATCM resolutions and recommendations and the Madrid Protocol. These are, however, limited with regard to achieving effective quarantine controls. IAATO has developed recommended guidelines for boot and clothing decontamination and members provide boot washing stations on their vessels, with passengers required to clean boots before and after each landing to remove soils and seeds from footwear, to assist in preventing transfer of species to Antarctica or between Antarctic locations.
For tourist activities not undertaken by IAATO members little information is available on the mechanisms used to reduce the risks of introductions, or the extent to which such visitors abide by ATCM resolutions. This is particularly problematic for some small yacht visits and ‘adventure tourism’ activities in the Antarctic Treaty Area.

quarantine risks in the Antarctic treaty area
Introduction of alien flora and fauna
Alien fauna and flora species have been introduced to the Antarctic region as a direct result of human activities:

  • Invertebrate species, including alien flies, thrips, springtails, mites and nematodes, have been found in and near several station buildings and heavily visited areas.

  • There are records of a number of species of exotic plants, mainly grasses, growing around stations.

  • Exotic micro-organisms, including fungi and human pathogens, have been recorded at some frequently visited sites. As well, micro-organisms originating from human sewage have been detected in marine habitats near stations.

  • The presence of antigens to exotic disease organisms (e.g. avian paramyxoviruses and Newcastle disease virus) have been documented in Adelie Penguins on the Antarctic continent although it is unlikely that humans have been the vector here.

The pathways by which such organisms may have been introduced are less well documented. A systematic inspection of all Australian Antarctic Division cargo and personal luggage being sent to the sub-Antarctic has documented the plant propagules found on clothing, equipment and supplies of visitors. Nearly a thousand plant propagules representing 94 angiosperms were found on the clothing and bags of 70 per cent of the visitors checked.


Although there are no records of alien marine species colonising the Antarctic region, it has been suggested that vessel hulls are potential pathways because populations of potentially invasive marine species can persist there in crevices and protected sites.
Translocation of flora and fauna species
Records of translocations, i.e. observations of indigenous or endemic Antarctic species that have been transferred by human agencies to areas that were not part of their original distribution, are rare despite a considerable increase in movements of personnel and cargo by sea, land and air within the continent over the last fifty years. The reason is almost certainly because the fauna/flora is generally small both in species abundance and richness and in physical size. Consequently, translocations of these organisms are likely to avoid detection. Moreover, groups such as the minute tardigrades, rotifers and nematodes, all occurring on the Antarctic continent, include a high proportion of widely dispersed even cosmopolitan species.
A documented case of translocation of a faunal species relates to Collembola (springtails), which show marked local patterns of endemism within the Antarctic continent. The natural distribution of the Collembolon, Friesea grisea Schäffer, extends from the area around the Gerlache Straits on the Peninsula to South Georgia including South Shetland and South Orkney Islands and in North Victoria Land. This species was recorded at a base over 4,000 km outside this distribution. It may have been introduced there during the International Geophysical Year (1956-57) when there was considerable air traffic and movement of rock specimens between this base and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Current Approaches under the Antarctic treaty system
Article 4 of Annex II of the Madrid Protocol outlines the current procedures for preventing the Introduction of Non-native Species, Parasites and Diseases into the Antarctic Treaty area. The Annex emphasises the need for particular caution with regard to live and dressed poultry and non-sterile soil.
There are few ATCM resolutions relevant to tourism that place an emphasis on quarantine issues. ATCM-XVIII-1 (as amended), which is based on the Antarctic Treaty and the Madrid Protocol outlines the current Guidance to Visitors to the Antarctic, as well as Procedures to be followed by Organisers and Operators. These procedures and guidelines focus on the environmental and operational aspects of visits by tourists and non-government expeditioners to Antarctica, but provide little guidance on quarantine controls.
Establishing effective Antarctic quarantine controls for tourism will require a review of these procedures and guidelines and the development and inclusion of quarantine-specific measures.

NEED FOR QUARANTINE CONTROLS
While the research on species introductions and translocations to the Antarctic Treaty Area indicates there are risks of introductions associated with national Antarctic programs, the absence of effective quarantine controls covering all tourism activities remains a significant concern.

Research into the carriage of plant propagules on clothing is of particular importance to Antarctic tourism. There are a variety of instances where visitors bring their own clothing and equipment to the Antarctic region, in some instances immediately after visiting other high latitude and high altitude locations. There is considerable potential for introduction of alien fauna and flora by such pathways.


It is important that those participating in Antarctic tourism activities adhere to the measures agreed under the Antarctic Treaty System, particularly those of the Madrid Protocol, to prevent or reduce the risk of introducing alien species, and of translocation of both endemic and alien species within Antarctica. Enhancement of the current procedures and guidelines for tourism activities is desirable to aid the full implementation of these obligations. In particular, quarantine controls will be necessary to effectively address risks of both deliberate and accidental introductions arising from tourism.
CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE ANTARCTIC QUARANTINE CONTROLS FOR TOURISM AND NON-GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES
As a first step a risk-based analysis is merited, which analyses the pathways for the introduction of alien species, and translocation of both alien and endemic species within the Antarctic region.
This analysis should seek to identify and classify potential quarantine risks arising from Antarctic tourism activities and develop policies to manage these risks. To assist this, the CEP could be called upon to undertake the risk-based analysis. This risk analysis would aim to identify and prioritise what actions could be taken to prevent or mitigate identified risks, based upon international standards, where they exist, and Antarctic-specific measures, where they deliver an appropriate level of protection from non-native species, parasites and diseases. In some instances relatively practical and cost-effective measures may be established, while in others further consideration may be required to identify a pragmatic way to implement effective quarantine controls, justified on scientific grounds and supported by risk analysis.
Any measures adopted, would need to be consistent with other Madrid Protocol obligations.
The ongoing cooperation of tour operators during this process is critical to the early uptake of agreed quarantine controls. Also, Treaty Parties should give consideration to taking early quarantine action with regard to tourism activities by operators who are their nationals.

RECOMMENDATION
It is recommended that the Antarctic Treaty Meeting of Experts on Tourism and Non-Government Activities proposes that CEP be tasked with developing proposals for the establishment of effective Antarctic quarantine controls for tourism, in particular the process by which a risk-based analysis could be undertaken.







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