Polar Policy in Practice: Tour Guiding in Antarctica

Hanne Nielsen, Gabriela Roldan

Each year, decisions on the management of Antarctic tourism take place at high-level meetings within the Antarctic Treaty System; these guidelines and recommendations inform the activities of those who travel to the Antarctic Region on commercially organized voyages and expeditions. In addition, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), promotes advocacy and responsible tourism management within its membership, providing guidelines and resources to ensure safe visitor management. This paper examines the role of the Antarctic tour guide as the front-line actor in interpreting and enforcing these directives before Antarctic visitors, and asks how guides interpret Antarctic governance in the cruise setting.

Referencing the IAATO Field Guide mandatory assessment, we ask how guides see themselves positioned within the existing structures of Antarctic governance, and how they act as mediators between theory and practice. Guests undergo mandatory IAATO briefings and biosecurity checks prior to any landings, but how is this contextualised within the wider Antarctic governance framework? And to what extent do guides see providing this context as their responsibility? Through focussed interviews with Antarctic tourism guides with a range of experience in the industry, we investigate the connections between policy decisions and on-the-ground practice and reflect on the end-user side of tourism governance decisions.


Dr Hanne Nielsen is a Lecturer at the University of Tasmania. She specialises in representations of Antarctica in cultural production, with a focus on advertising material and how Antarctica is delivered as a product. Hanne is on the executive committee of the SCAR Standing Committee on Humanities and Social Sciences (SC-HASS), book review editor for The Polar Journal, and a past president of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS). She has spent 5 seasons working as a tour guide on ships in the Southern Ocean. hanne.nielsen@utas.edu.au

Gabriela Roldan is a specialist researcher at Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury (NZ). Her academic interests range from Antarctic gateway cities and geopolitics, polar policy and management, Antarctic tourism, and polar education and outreach. Gabriela is a COMNAP Fellow and current Vice President of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS). Gabriela has visited Antarctica over 50 times working as a tour guide.  gabriela.roldan@canterbury.ac.nz

Influencing Russia’s support for Southern Ocean MPAs

Ms Elena Zharkova1

1Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, Washington DC, USA

Russia has not been in favour of the establishment of large scale Marine  Protected Areas in CCAMLR, particularly where the fishing potential is not well researched.  There is no legal mechanism for gazetting Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for biodiversity or conservation purposes in Russia and consequently, the country is not familiar with this practice.  ASOC Russia has been working with other Russian eNGOs to promote the value of high seas MPAs to Russian authorities and the necessity for appropriate legislation.  This paper explores progress made thus far with particular reference to the CCAMLR context.


Elena Zharkova has a strong background in conservation. Previously, she was communications officer for IFAW Russia, where she worked on successful campaigns to ban the Russian winter bear hunt, the hunting of harp seal pups along the Russian coast, protection of Russian tigers and conservation of western gray whales. As part of her work for ASOC, she promotes the importance of the Antarctic environment in Russia, through events, public speaking, and outreach to government officials.

Campaigning for CCAMLR MPAs in China

Jiliang Chen1

1The Greenovation Hub, Beijing, China

Antarctic policy is seen as a marginal issue in  China’s government.  The ASOC campaign to promote Southern Ocean MPAs has generated increased public interest on Antarctic issues and has begun to shape the narratives on Antarctica in China.   This paper explores the role of eNGOs in generating that change.


Jiliang has expertise on the governance of the living resources in the Antarctic and high seas. Prior to the GHUB, he worked for the Institute for Environment and Development and Heinrich Böll Stiftung. He had observed the UN Climate process from 2007 to 2011. Since 2012, he has been engaging in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the Antarctic Treaty Consultative meetings, and publishing papers and commentaries in various journal and newsletters. Jiliang holds a bachelor’s degree on Environmental Science from the East China Normal University and a master’s degree on Environmental Management from the Technical University of Freiberg, Germany.

Developing a strong International Code for Ships operating in Polar Regions

Ms Claire Christian1

1Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, Washington DC, USA

While shipping in polar regions  continues to grow, additional traffic is putting these sensitive areas at risk for negative

ASOC coordination and leadership of eNGOs interested in this issue has played a critical role in ensuring that the Polar Code includes important environmental protection aspects and negotiations result in a meaningful instrument that will protect the polar regions.


Claire Christian has worked for ASOC since 2009 and has developed substantial expertise on a full range of issues relevant to the Antarctic environment. Her aim is to educate and inspire people around the world to protect the Antarctic continent and its surrounding ocean, which are some of the world’s last great wilderness areas. In her work with ASOC, she coordinates policy and strategy related to many of the issues that impact the Antarctic environment, including tourism, fisheries, marine protected areas, and climate change. As part of this work, she has developed relationships with Antarctic stakeholders, including government officials, scientists, and industry. She leads ASOC’s delegations to Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCMs) and meetings of the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). To share ASOC’s messages with as many audiences as possible, she has authored blogs, opinion pieces, and academic articles, and has been interviewed by a wide variety of international publications and media outlets. Claire has a special fondness for Antarctica’s fascinating but little-known invertebrate species and aspires to make them as famous and beloved as penguins. She received an M.A. in International Affairs at American University, School of International Service in May 2008.

Progressing Antarctic krill management

Ms Nicole Bransome1

1The Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington DC, USA

The combined impacts of a changing climate and concentrated coastal fishing are having negative impacts on krill predators and Southern Ocean ecosystems, but the Commission for CAMLR   has the mandate and opportunity to lead the world in developoing precautionary ecosystem-based management for the Antarctic krill fishery. ENGOs are supporting primary research and technical workshops in 2018 and 2019 to inform the development of ecosystem-based krill fishery management frameworks, Outcomes of the krill workshops will be considered by the CCAMLR scientific community prior to the revision of the conservation measure governing the Antarctic krill fishery scheduled for 2021.


Nicole Bransome’s work at The Pew Charitable Trusts focuses on the interface of science, policy and communications to achieve protection of the Southern Ocean. Nicole specifically focuses on securing marine reserves in the Southern Ocean and implementing an ecosystem-based fisheries management plan for the Antarctic krill fishery through the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctica Marine Living Resources. Nicole has a master’s degree in marine environmental sciences and was previously a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow at the Department of the Interior, where she provided policy advice on federal interagency ocean policy initiatives including the Ecosystem-Based Management priority of the National Ocean Policy and the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.

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