The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) is offering a set of guidelines and procedures for independent travelers sailing the waters around Antarctica. The organization, which works with more than a hundred travel companies around the globe, hopes to lend its considerable experience to others in hopes of keeping the waters of the Southern Ocean safe, while protecting the environment as well.
The resources that are available from the IAATO can be found by clicking here. Amongst the very useful options are information on how to prepare for sailing below 60ºS, links to government contacts in a host of countries from which to set sail, tips on how to protect the environment while traveling in and around Antarctica, and a list of service providers and operators in the area. The IAATO is offering this information to help private yachts, which it defines as a ship that is powered by sail or motor and housing less than 12 passengers, to ensure a safe voyage for everyone who ventures into the waters near the frozen continent.
Over the past few years there have been several high profile accidents in and around Antarctica which have made headlines across the globe. Fortunately no one has been killed or even seriously injured in those incidents, but they have spurred the IAATO to work with its members to create more stringent guidelines for ships operating in the Southern Ocean. Those guidelines should provide travelers with a better, safer experience that also keeps the environment and wildlife safe as well.
I applaud the IAATO for their efforts in recent months as they clearly have the best interest of their clients and the Antarctic in mind. Providing these guidelines for others sailing the oceans is a great resource as well, and offers some insights into the hazards of travel in the region before anyone ever sets sail.