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Archive for Sunday, December 13, 2009

Antarctic nations plan tough shipping controls

December 13, 2009

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— Countries that manage Antarctica plan tough new controls on ships visiting the southern oceans and the fuels they use to reduce the threat of human and environmental disasters as tourist numbers rise, officials said Saturday.

The new code will reduce the number of ships carrying tourists into the region by requiring that all vessels have hulls strengthened to withstand sea ice. Officials and ship operators said a ban on heavy fuel oil will effectively shut out big cruise ships.

The safeguards are seen as necessary to limit accidents in the region, where blinding sleet, fog, high winds and treacherous seas pose major dangers for ships and huge problems for rescuers located thousands of miles from remote Antarctic waters.

The moves follow a huge growth in tourist traffic as people flock to see the world’s last great wilderness.

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