US, Others to Curb Antarctic Tourism
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2009 12:10 PM CDT
A scene of melting icebergs is shown in Antarctica.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Nations led by the US have pledged to check the quickly growing Antarctica tourism industry, the BBC reports. Nearly 30 nations signed a treaty to bar ships carrying more than 500 passengers from landing on the continent and to limit the number of people from a ship on shore to 100 at a time. The move is a response to concerns about safety and the environment.

Increased tourism has led to an uptick in accidents and fears about the fragile habitat vital to penguins, seals, and whales. Just 6,700 people visited Antarctica in 1992-93, but 45,000 went south last season, when two cruise ships ran aground and multiple incidents carrying the risk of contamination were documented. The countries also agreed to new safety regulations and increased protection for the ecosystem.