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How Cautious is Precautious?: Antarctic Tourism and the Precautionary Principle

  • Shirley V. Scott (a1)

Extract

Literature on the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), particularly that written by citizens of States that are Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty, has often been celebratory in character. The ATS, we have been told, is a model of international co-operation. The regime has prided itself on addressing issues ahead of crisis situations; and, since the conclusion, and subsequent entry into force, of the Environmental Protocol, with its protection of the Antarctic environment. This acclaim of the system that manages Antarctic affairs may be to a large extent warranted. Antarctica has remained peaceful and its value as a scientific laboratory has in recent years been enhanced through the contribution of Antarctic science to understanding environmental issues of global concern. But the environmental credentials of the Treaty System will be immeasurably weakened if it continues to display such a huge anomaly between its treatment of mining and that of tourism. Tourism is covered by only a very weak application of the precautionary principle while the application of the precautionary principle to the issue of mining has been ‘extreme’. The principal factor behind this anomaly appears to be political opportunism.

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1. 30 ILM 1455.

2. Cameron, J. and Abouchar, J., ‘The Status of the Precautionary Principle in International Law’ in David, Freestone and Ellen, Hey (eds.), The Precautionary Principle and International Law: The Challenge of Implementation (The Hague: Kluwer, 1996), 2952.

3. The Rio Declaration 31 ILM 874.

4. Jordan and O' Riordan listed a number of core elements or notions inherent to precaution: a willingness to take action in advance of formal scientific proof, cost-effectiveness of action—i.e. some consideration of proportionality of costs; provision for ecological margins of error; the intrinsic value of non-human entities; a shift in the onus of proof to those who propose change; a concern for future generations; and payment for ecological debts through strict/absolute liability regimes. Jordan, A. and O'Riordan, T., The Precautionary Principle in U.K. Environmental Law and Policy, CSERGE Working Paper GEC 94–11 at 612 (London: Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, 1994), cited in Zwaag, D. Vander, ‘The Precautionary Principle in Environmental Law and Policy: Elusive Rhetoric and First Embraces’, Journal of Environmental Law and Practice 8 (1999), 355–75 at 359.

5. Wolfrum, R., ‘Precautionary Principle’ in J-P., Beurier, Kiss, A. and Mahmoudi, S. (eds.), New Technologies and Law of the Marine Environment (The Hague: Kluwer, 2000), at 207.

6. D. VanderZwaag, op cit, 355–75 at 356.

7. Ibid., at 357.

8. See Hey, E., ‘The Precautionary Concept in Environmental Policy and Law: Institutionalizing Caution’, Georgetown International Environmental Law Review IV:2 (Winter/Spring 1992), 303–18 at 307.

9. R. Wolfrum, op cit., at 211.

10. Handbook of the Antarctic Treaty System, 8th edn. U.S. Department of State (April 1994), at 2001.

11. D.R. Rothwell, The Polar Regions and the Development of International Law (1996), at 401.

12. Redgwell, C., ‘Environmental Protection in Antarctica: The 1991 Protocol’, 43 ICLQ 599634 at 633.

13. Freestone, D. and Hey, E., ‘Implementing the Precautionary Principle: Challenges and Opportunities’ in Freestone, and Hey, (eds.), The Precautionary Principle and International Law: The Challenge of Implementation (The Hague: Kluwer, 1996), 249.

14. A. Nolkaemper, ‘“What you risk reveals what you value”, and Other Dilemmas Encountered in the Legal Assaults on Risks’, Ibid., 73–94.

15. Hey describes the essence of the precautionary concept as being ‘the rejection of science as the absolute guide for the environmental policy-maker’. Hey, , ‘The Precautionary Concept in Environmental Policy and Law: Institutionalizing Caution’, Georgetown International Environmental Law Review IV:2 (Winter-Spring 1992), 303–18 at 311. See also Earll, R. C., ‘Commonsense and the Precautionary Principle—An Environmentalist's Perspective’, Marine Pollution Bulletin 24:4 (1992) 182–6 at 182.

16. See Rothwell, D. R., ‘Polar Environmental Protection and International Law: The 1991 Antarctic Protocol’, European Journal of International Law 11:3 (2000), 591614 at 599–603.

17. Francioni, F., ‘The Madrid Protocol on the Protection of the Antarctic Environment’, Texas International Law Journal 28:1 (1993), at 65–6.

18. Ibid., at 62. The Protocol does set up a Committee for Environmental Protection but that is only an advisory organ. Joyner, C. C., Governing the Frozen Commons: The Antarctic Regime and Environmental Protection (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998), 154.

19. Rothwell, op cit., 591–614 at 608.

20. R. T. Scully, ‘The Antarctic Treaty as a System’ and Beeby, C., ‘The Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities and its Future’ in Herr, R. A., Hall, H. R., and Haward, M. G. (eds.), Antarctica's Future: Continuity or Change? Hobart: Tasmanian Government Printing Office, 1990. See also Joyner, , ‘CRAMRA: The Ugly Duckling of the Antarctic Treaty System?’ in Jorgensen-Dahl, A. and Ostreng, W. (eds.), The Antarctic Treaty System in World Politics (Macmillan in association with the Friedtjof Nansen Institute, 1991) 161–85 at 167.

21. The simplicity of Antarctic ecosystems makes them ideal systems for examining ecosystem dynamics. Hall, C. M., ‘Ecotourism in Antarctica and adjacent sub-Antarctic islands: development, impacts, management and prospects for the future’, Tourism Management (04 1993), 117–22 at 118.

22. Rec. VIII–9; Rec. XVIII–1. Bonner, W. N., ‘Environmental Assessment in the Antarctic’, Ambio 18:1 (1989), 83–9 at 83.

23. In the Australian Antarctic Territory, for example, the ice-free area is less than 0.3 per cent of the land mass. Hall, op cit, 117–22 at 118.

24. Article 3, Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. 30ILM 1455.

25. Article 2, Ibid.

26. Beck, P. J., ‘Antarctica enters the 1990s: an overview’, Applied Geography 10 (1990), 247–63 at 251–2.

27. Stonehouse, B. and Crosbie, K., ‘Tourist Impacts and Management in the Antarctic Peninsular Area’, in Hall, C. M. and Johnston, M. E. (eds.), Polar Tourism: Tourism in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions (John Wiley & Sons, 1995), 217. For further information, see Headland, R. K., ‘Historical development of Antarctic Tourism’, Annals of Tourism Research 21:2 (1994), 269–80.

28. Stonehouse, B. and Crosbie, K., ‘Tourist Impacts and Management in the Antarctic Peninsular Area’, in Hall, C. M. and Johnston, M. E. (eds.), Polar Tourism: Tourism in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions (John Wiley & Sons, 1995), 217.

29. Reich, R. J., ‘The development of Antarctic tourism’, Polar Record 20:126 (1980), 214303.

30. Mason, P. A. and Legg, S. J., ‘Antarctic tourism: Activities, Impacts, Management Issues, and a Proposed Research Agenda’, Pacific Tourism Review 3 (1999), 7184 at 75.

31. For a full description, see Enzenbacher in Hall and Johnston (ed.), op cit, 183 ff.

32. These can be found on the internet site of the Australian Antarctic Division. <http://www.aad.gov.au/goingsouth/tourism/Research/TreatySys/ATCM/Recommendations>

33. The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) has two sets of guidelines, the first of which is addressed to Antarctic tour operators—crew and staff members, the second to visitors. Tour operators consider these guidelines adequate. See the IAATO Home Page at <http://www.iaato.org/>. See also D. J. Enzenbacher, ‘The regulation of Antarctic tourism’ in Hall and Johnston (eds.), op cit, and Stonehouse, B., ‘IAATO: an association of Antarctic tour operators’, Polar Record 28: 167 (10 1992), 322–4.

34. Recommendation VIII–9, Preamble.

35. Hart, P. D., ‘Bound for 60 South—Taxes, Tips, and Transfers Included: The Growth of Antarctic Tourism’, Oceanus 31:2 (1988) 93100 at 95.

36. Bowermaster, J., ‘Antarctica: Tourism's Last Frontier’, Audubon 96:4 (1994), 90–7 at 97. Similarly: ‘The question to be asked is whether we work with tourism or against it. I believe the latter view is not tenable’, H. F. M. Logan, ‘Tourism and other Activities’, Proceedings of the Antarctica 150: Scientific Perspectives Policy Futures Conference, organized by Environmental Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 8 Sept. 1990.

37. Codling, R. J., ‘Sea-borne tourism in the Antarctic: an evaluation’, Polar Record 21 (130) (1982) 39 at 4; Headland, R., ‘Historical Development of Antarctic Tourism’, Annals of Tourism Research 21 (2) (1994) 269–80 at 279 and Riffenburgh, B., ‘Impacts on the Antarctic environment: tourism vs government programmes’, Polar Record 34:190 (1998), 193–6.

38. ‘Few people returning from Antarctica fail to be untouched in some personal way. Many return almost as missionaries …’ Hart, , ‘Bound for 60 South—Taxes, Tips, and Transfers Included: The Growth of Antarctic Tourism’, Oceanus 31:2 (1988) 93100 at 98. See also Dingwall, P. and Cessford, G., ‘Pole Positions’, Environment Australia 20 (Spring 1996), 65–58 at 65 and Rubin, J., Antarctica: A Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit (Lonely Planet, 1996), at 9.

39. Nicholson, I. E., ‘Antarctic Tourism: The Need for a Legal Regime?’, Maritime Studies (05/06 1986), 17. This was a topic of discussion at the Informal Antarctic Treaty Meeting on Tourism, Venice, 1992.

40. Parfitt, quoted in Enzenbacher, D. J., ‘A policy for Antarctic tourism: conflict or cooperation?’ (unpublished Master of Philosophy thesis in Polar Studies, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, 1991). Similarly, ‘Antarctic Tourism Must Be Managed, Not Eliminated’, an article by Carvallo, M. L. in Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy 9:1 (Spring 1994), 76–9.

41. Herr, R. A., ‘The regulation of Antarctic tourism: a study in regime effectiveness’, in Stokke and Vidas (eds), Governing the Antarctica (1996), 203223 at 208; Hall, and Johnston, , Polar Tourism: Tourism in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions. (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1995), 7.

42. Mason, P. A. and Legg, S. J., ‘Antarctic Tourism: Activities, Impacts, Management Issues, and a Proposed Research Agenda’, Pacific Tourism Review 3 (1999), 7184; Cessford, G. and Dingwall, P. R., ‘Research on shipborne tourism to the Ross Sea region and the New Zealand sub-Antarctic islands’, Polar Record 34 (189) (1998), 99106;

43. Cardozo, Y. and Hirsch, B., ‘Antarctic Tourism89’, Sea Frontiers (0910 1989), 285–91 at 291.

44. See Barnes, J. N., ‘Protection of the Environment in Antarctica: Are Present Regimes Enough?’ in A., Jorgensen-Dahl and Ostreng, W. (eds), The Antarctic Treaty System in World Politics (Basingstoke: Macmillan, in association with the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, 1991), 186228 at 195.

45. Davis, P. B., ‘Antarctic visitor behaviour: are guidelines enough?’, Polar Record 31: 178 (1995) 327–34.

46. See, inter alia, Acerto, J. M. and Aguirre, C. A., ‘A Monitoring Research Plan for Tourism in Antarctica’ in Annals of Tourism Research 21:2 (1994), 295302; Hughes, J., ‘Antarctic historic sites: the tourism implications’, Annals of Tourism Research 21:2 (1994), 281–94; and Splettstoesser, J. and Folks, M. C., ‘Environmental Guidelines for Tourism in Antarctica’, Annals of Tourism Research 21:2 (1994), 231–44.

47. Vidas, D., ‘Antarctic Tourism: A Challenge to the Legitimacy of the Antarctic Treaty System?’, German Yearbook of International Law 36 (1993) 187224 at 192.

48. Cessford, G., ‘Antarctic tourism: A frontier for wilderness management’, International Journal of Wilderness 3:3 (1997), 711.

49. Beck, P. J., ‘Managing Antarctic Tourism: A Front-Burner Issue’, Annals of Tourism Research 21:2 (1994), 375386 at 377.

50. Joyner, , Governing the Frozen Commons: The Antarctic Regime and Environmental Protection. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998), 212.

51. Enzenbacher, D. J., ‘The regulation of Antarctic tourism’, in Hall, and Johnston, (eds.), Polar Tourism: Tourism in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions (John Wiley & Sons, 1995), 180.

52. Wace, N., ‘Antarctica: a new tourist destination’, Applied Geography 10:4 (1990), 327–41.

53. Davis, P. B., ‘Beyond Guidelines: A Model for Antarctic Tourism’, Annals of Tourism Research 26:3 (1999), 516–33 at 517.

54. Hall and Johnston, op cit, 13.

55. See, generally, Vidas, D., ‘Antarctic Tourism: A Challenge to the Legitimacy of the Antarctic Treaty System?’, German Yearbook of International Law 36 (1993) 187224 at 192 ff.

56. Triggs, G. D. (ed.), The Antarctic Treaty Regime: Law, Environment and Resources (CUP, 1987, at 51.

57. Bergin, A., ‘The Politics of Antarctic Minerals: The Greening of White Antarctica’, Australian Journal of Political Science 26 (1991), 216–39 at 225.

58. ‘Search for a Management Regime in Polar Regions’ in Hall and Johnston (eds.), op cit, at 20.

59. C. M. Hall and M. E. Johnston, ‘Introduction: Pole to Pole: Tourism Issues, Impacts and the Search for a Management Regime in Polar Regions’ in Hall and Johnston (eds.), op cit, at 20.

60. See discussion in Bergin, A., ‘The Politics of Antarctic Minerals: The Greening of White Antarctica’, Australian Journal of Political Science 26 (1991), 216–39.

61. Freestone and Hey, op cit, 251.

62. Freestone, , ‘The Precautionary Principle’, in R. R. Churchill and D. Freestone (eds.), International Law and Global Climate Change (1991), at 36.

63. Cameron, J. and Abouchar, J., ‘The precautionary principle: a fundamental principle of law and policy for the protection of the global environment’, Boston College International and Comparative Law Review 14:1 (Winter 1991), 127 at 27.

How Cautious is Precautious?: Antarctic Tourism and the Precautionary Principle

  • Shirley V. Scott (a1)

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