China will soon publish a regulation that urges Chinese travelers to Antarctica to better protect the southernmost continent’s environment.
The State Oceanic Administration is seeking opinions and suggestions on the draft of the Environmental Protection Regulation on Activities on Antarctica, which was made public on the administration’s website on Jan 30. Individuals can submit their thoughts on the regulation before Feb 7.
The regulation comes amid a surge in the number of Chinese tourists to the icy continent in past years.
According to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, an industry group in the United States, Chinese tourists were outnumbered in 2017 only by the United States, overtaking Australia for the No 2 spot.
The association said 5,289 Chinese travelers visited Antarctica last year, 12 percent of the total number of tourists. More than 97 percent of those Chinese tourists landed on the continent.
In 2016, 4,095 Chinese people made trips to Antarctica.
The draft regulation stipulates that organizers of activities to Antarctica and participants must use measures to reduce the possible impact caused by their activities on Antarctica’s environment and ecosystems.
It says organizers and participants will pay for what is needed to clean their pollution and restore the environment, adding they also will cover the expenditures for rescues, medical services or evacuations caused by their trips.
The document forbids the carrying of toxic objects, those that pollute and nonnative creatures to the ecologically sensitive continent. Collecting and bringing out local soil, rocks and animals also will be banned.
Construction work will only be allowed if it is for scientific or educational purposes.
Waste generated during a stay on Antarctica must be taken off the continent and items unfit for transportation should be incinerated and the remnants taken back, the draft states.
Organizers must submit a report about their activities on Antarctica to oceanic authorities within 30 days of the tour’s conclusion.
Violators will be blacklisted and prohibited from entering Antarctica for three years, the draft notes.
Lin Shanqing, deputy head of the State Oceanic Administration, said that China pays great attention to environmental protection on Antarctica and has spared no effort to regulate activities by its nationals on the continent.