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Flashcards in Exploitation of the Southern Ocean Deck (15)
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What are the characteristics of Antarctica?

South Pole.
Huge ice sheets, continental ice masses, Nunataks and ice shelves.
Cold, windy, dry.
Less than 250mm rain per year.
No permanent residents - scientific research stations.
1,000 in winter - 5,000 in summer.


What flora and fauna is in Antarctica?

Lichens and mosses.
Penguins, krill - important food source.
4-5cm long crustaceans - semi-transparent.
Drift around in huge swarms - can have 2 million tonnes of Krill in them.


What protection is in place for Antarctica?

The Antarctic Treaty - named it as a scientific preserve where all military activity was banned - 12 signed.
Subjected all areas to onsite inspection.
Prohibits nuclear explosions/waste.
The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection - assessment/monitoring should be carried out.
Banned all mineral resource activity - exploration of the continental shelf.
The Madrid 1998 Protocol - banned all mining.
Reviewed in 2048 - now has 45 signatures - represents 2/3 of the world's population.
Has gold, iron, oil depots - but uneconomic to mine.


Why are wilderness areas such as Antarctica scientifically important? 4

1. There is a need to maintain the gene pool of wild organisms to ensure that genetic variety is maintained.
2. Animal communities can be studied in their natural environment.
3. Serves as a natural laboratory for ecosystems.
4. Need for pure natural systems to be used as a yardstick - compared against mismanaged ecosystems.


What laws are put in place regarding wilderness areas?

The 1964 Wilderness Act - USA.
Designated a number of wilderness areas.
Largest designated areas - in Alaska.
Alaska wilderness legislation - the 1980 National Interest Lands Conservation Act.


Where do the main pressures to exploit wilderness areas come from?

National and transnational groups.
Require energy and raw materials to develop.
Sustainability is needed - arguments over this.


How is the Southern Ocean being exploited? 4 names.

1. Sealing.
2. Whaling.
3. Fishing.
4. Tourism.


How is the Southern Ocean being exploited regarding sealing?

Sealing: 1800 - fur seals of South Georgia were wiped out.
South Shetland Islands - 300,000 seals killed within 3 years.


How is the Southern Ocean being exploited regarding whaling?

Main targets - blue and right whales.
Used for oil and baleen (whalebone).
North Atlantic whale population massively exploited - attention now on the Southern Ocean.
Grytviken - South Georgia whaling station - 300 employed.
Products - meat meal, bonemeal, meat extract and frozen whale meat.
Abandoned 1965 - stocks fell dangerously low.
The 1945 International Whaling Convenction - eventually led to the end of whaling in 1965.
Most whaling nations agreed to stop - whales were becoming extinct.


How is the Southern Ocean being exploited regarding fishing?

Replaced whaling - 1960s.
Mainly Russian ships exploited fish species - Antarctic rock cod in particular.
Concerns over how much is being taken - especially krill - underpins the entire food web.


How is the Southern Ocean being exploited regarding tourism?

Camping trips for naturalists/photographs.
Ship-board visits largely by cruise ships and over-flights.


Why do tourists visit Antarctica?

Glacial landscapes and wildlife.
Remoteness and isolation.
Test against weather conditions.
Historic sites - McMurdo Sound huts from the Scott expedition.
Tourism period - mid-November to March.


What are tourism expeditions to Antarctica like?

Small capacity - 50 to 100 people.
Ship-based programme - educational lectures by Antarctic specialists -= motivated groups.
All are briefed on the Antarctic treaty and protocols.
Code of conduct, safe regulations, wildlife rules.
200 possible visiting sites.
Overall groups - divides into 20, led by an expert guide..
Each sites only visited 2/3 times per day.


What did the Scott Polar Research Institute find regarding the impact of tourism in Antarctica 7

1. Well-run tourism industry.
2. Guidlines are widely accepted by tourists/operators - but need updating to include the environmental UN protocol.
3. Damage of vegetation (fragile moss mat) is due to natural causes - breeding seals. Tourists are careful not to walk on fragile vegetation.
4. No litter is attributed to tourists.
5. No penguin stress - only tern colonies seem to suffer from disturbance.
6. Indifferent seals.
7. 200 sites surveyed - only 5% showed damage - need to be rested, but there is no mechanism to manage this at present.


What are the concerns of the Antarctic ecosystem? 6

1. Extremely fragile - 50 years vegetation regeneration.
2. Summer tourist season coincides with peak wildlife breeding periods.
3. Difficulty with fresh water demands.
4. Visitor pressure on cultural heritage sites e.g. whaling stations and early exploration bases.
5. Over-flying planes is causing some bird stress.
6. The unique legal status makes enforcement of any code of behaviour difficult.