The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), is a global body of more than 100 environmental Non Governmental Organizations. Since 1978, ASOC has been working to protect the environment of Antarctic continent including the surrounding islands and the Southern Ocean.
As the shipping traffic is increasing in the Antarctic continent, the environmental hazards are also increasing. Some of the accidents reported during the last two years in the region are:
- the sinking of M/S Explorer, a commercial tourism vessel, in November 2007
- the grounding of commercial tourism vessel M/V Nordkapp in January 2007
- the grounding of M/V Lybov Orlova in November 2006
- the drifting of M/S Fram on December 30, 2007
- trawler Argos Georgia which lost power on December 23, 2007
- serious accident in Japanese whaling ship Nisshin Maru in February 2007
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has already designated the Southern Ocean as a special area in 1990. Now considering the increased environmental hazards taking place due to increased shipping traffic, ASOC is approaching the IMO to issue specific guidelines with respect to the following in the region:
- vessel ice-strengthening standards
- banning use of heavier grade fuel oils
- discharges of oily substances, sewage, gray water and waste
- introduction of alien species through ballast water, hull fouling and other pathways
- establishment of a vessel traffic monitoring and information system for vessels operating in the Southern Ocean
Now IMO currently on its 57th session from March 31st to April 4th is expected to address the above issue also.
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Click here to view a video clip of Antarctica.
Update: April 10
Click here to read IMO’s press briefing no 13, dated April 09, 2008 on ‘Protecting the Antarctic Area from shipping’.
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