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Experts meet on need for new rules to govern world's fragile polar regions
Date:9/7/2008

Organization (IMO), there are many problems that require attention. There is a need for an arctic ship routing system, traffic separation schemes, and use of Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT). Due to their vulnerability, arctic waters require very strict standards for ballast water exchange, fuel content, discharge and emission. There should be internationally binding standards for construction, design, equipment and manning of ships," says Dr. Saksina.

"There is an urgent need for a comprehensive international environmental regime specially tailored for the unique arctic conditions. This regime is needed before natural resource development expands widely. The earliest date of summer Arctic Ocean without ice may be 2013. The longer the delay in developing international environmental rules, the more likely it is that unplanned and unregulated development will damage the very resources most necessary for a sustainable future in the Arctic. There is no time to waste and no reason to wait."

Antarctic Tourists and Researchers

Conference chairman Dr. David Leary of UNU-IAS notes that the Madrid Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty commits signatories to avoid changing distribution, abundance or productivity of Antarctica's fauna and flora, to jeopardize endangered or threatened species or to degrade or create substantial risk to areas of biological, scientific, historic, aesthetic or wilderness significance.

It also commits signatories to guard against importation of non-sterile soil and the introduction of non-native species and micro-organisms (e.g., viruses, bacteria, parasites, yeasts, fungi).

In the Antarctic, however, tourist activities can compromise the region due to seeds, invertebrates and soil in their clothing and footwear, and in their provisions and equipment, says Dr. Leary. As well, visitors may introduce and spread infectious disease-causing agents thr
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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
United Nations University
Source:Eurekalert

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