15.7.2 Economic activity and sustainability in the Antarctic
Fishing and tourism are the only significant economic activities in the Antarctic at present. Over 27,000 tourists visited Antarctica in the 2005/06 summer and the industry is growing rapidly (IAATO, 2006). The multiple stresses of climate change and increasing human activity on the Antarctic Peninsula represent a clear vulnerability (see Section 15.6.3), and have necessitated the implementation of stringent clothing decontamination guidelines for tourist landings on the Antarctic Peninsula (IAATO, 2005).
Fishing is, however, the only large-scale exploitation of resources in Antarctica, and since 1982 Antarctic fisheries have been regulated by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which takes climate change into account in determining allowable catches. However, before the CCAMLR came into force, heavy fishing around South Georgia led to a major decline in some stocks, which have not yet fully recovered. The illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing of the Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) is of concern because it could act alongside climate change to undermine sustainable management of stocks (Bialek, 2003). Furthermore, those fishing illegally often use techniques that cause the death of by-catch species; for example, albatross and petrels, which are now under threat (Tuck et al., 2001).