Taking or harmful interference with Antarctic wildlife is prohibited except in accordance with a permit issued by a national authority. Do not use aircraft, vessels, small boats, or other means of transport in ways that disturb wildlife, either at sea or on land. Do not feed, touch, or handle birds or seals, or approach or photograph them in ways that cause them to alter their behavior. Special care is needed when animals are breeding or molting. Do not damage plants, for example by walking, driving, or landing on extensive moss beds or lichen-covered scree slopes. Do not use guns or explosives. Keep noise to the minimum to avoid frightening wildlife. Do not bring non-native plants or animals into the Antarctic, such as live poultry, pet dogs and cats, or house plants.
A variety of areas in the Antarctic have been afforded special protection because of their particular ecological, scientific, historic, or other values. Entry into certain areas may be prohibited except in accordance with a permit issued by an appropriate national authority. Activities in and near designated Historic Sites and Monuments and certain other areas may be subject to special restrictions. Know the locations of areas that have been afforded special protection and any restrictions regarding entry and activities that can be carried out in and near them. Observe applicable restrictions. Do not damage, remove, or destroy Historic Sites or Monuments or any artifacts associated with them.
Do not interfere with scientific research, facilities or equipment.
Obtain permission before visiting Antarctic science and support facilities; reconfirm arrangements 24-72 hours before arrival; and comply with the rules regarding such visits. Do not interfere with, or remove, scientific equipment or marker posts, and do not disturb experimental study sites, field camps, or supplies.
Be prepared for severe and changeable weather and ensure that your equipment and clothing meet Antarctic standards. Remember that the Antarctic environment is inhospitable, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous. Know your capabilities and the dangers posed by the Antarctic environment, and act accordingly. Plan activities with safety in mind at all times. Keep a safe distance from all wildlife, both on land and at sea. Take note of, and act on, the advice and instructions from your leaders; do not stray from your group. Do not walk onto glaciers or large snow fields without the proper equipment and experience; there is a real danger of falling into hidden crevasses. Do not expect a rescue service. Self-sufficiency is increased and risks reduced by sound planning, quality equipment, and trained personnel. Do not enter emergency refuges (except in emergencies). If you use equipment or food from a refuge, inform the nearest research station or national authority once the emergency is over. Respect any smoking restrictions, particularly around buildings, and take great care to safeguard against the danger of fire. This is a real hazard in the dry environment of Antarctica.
Antarctica remains relatively pristine, the largest wilderness area on Earth. It has not yet been subjected to large-scale human perturbations. Please keep it that way.
Do not dispose of litter or garbage on land. Open burning is prohibited. Do not disturb or pollute lakes or streams. Any materials discarded at sea must be disposed of properly. Do not paint or engrave names or graffiti on rocks or buildings. Do not collect or take away biological or geological specimens or man-made artifacts as a souvenir, including rocks, bones, eggs, fossils, and parts or contents of buildings. Do not deface or vandalize buildings or emergency refuges, whether occupied, abandoned, or unoccupied.
The Arctic region is one of the last and most extensive continuous wilderness areas in the world and its significance in preserving biodiversity is considerable. The increasing presence of people fragments vital habitats. The Arctic faces unparalleled challenges with consequences not only for the region, but for our entire planet.
Some of the world’s largest seabird populations congregate here and iconic wildlife thrives in this frigid white world, including: polar bears, white beluga whales and ringed seals.
Human communities also rely on the Arctic’s resources. Many Alaskan Natives live a traditional subsistence way of life and depend on a healthy marine environment to survive. Today the Arctic faces many challenges, from expanding oil and gas exploration and other industrial activity to increasing tourism and climate change impacts. It is likely that in the coming decades, new investments, industry and building an infrastructure as well as the increasing mobility of goods, services and people are to be expected. These will all have an effect on the environment of the region and on the local populations of indigenous peoples. Global change is expected to have the overwhelmingly large impact in the near future on the diversity of nature and cultures in the arctic and northern regions and on the recreational value of the Arctic and its natural resources. The impacts from the changes will reflect in the ecosystems of the region, its biodiversity and on almost all life in the region.
The Arctic is experiencing the effects of climate change more than anywhere else, with air temperatures warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Water temperatures are rising and seasonal sea ice is melting at a record-breaking pace. Scientists predict that the Arctic could be ice-free during the summer months within 30 years, possibly sooner. That’s a huge problem for Native people who rely on sea ice as a platform for hunting and travel. Polar bears, walruses and many other species that hunt, breed, rest and rear their young on the ice are also struggling as this key habitat melts from under them.