- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The public is either uncomfortable with drones or fascinated by them. Those novel flying machines with nifty cameras and technical embellishments have their charm. The presence of drones overhead is multiplying however, and concerns about their intrusions are now reaching to the far ends of the Earth. Really.

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators is cautioning all potential travelers to Antarctica who pine to fly a drone to check with their travel agent or tour operator before packing their device. So reports Travel and Tour World, an industry source. “Opportunities may be limited until more is known about their safe and environmentally responsible use in this last great wilderness - particularly in the wildlife rich coastal regions of Antarctica. Tour operators will either prohibit the use of unmanned aerial vehicles altogether or only allow them to be operated under strictly defined conditions,” the publication advises.

“Within the Antarctic Treaty System, the unique global partnership that designates the entire continent as a natural reserve, all human activities, whether for science or tourism, have to go through an annual environmental impact assessment by a relevant competent authority or government agency,” the publication says.

“Antarctica is still pristine with wildlife and landscapes that show little evidence of impact from direct human activity. To visit and operate in an environment like this comes with a responsibility to do so carefully and with minimal disturbance,” says Kim Crosbie, director of the aforementioned tour association.

“The use of UAVs is in a state of development and, until more information is available, IAATO Member Operators and competent authorities are taking a precautionary approach when it comes to their operation. The idea is to devise a pragmatic policy framework that will allow safe and environmentally responsible use under controlled circumstances.”

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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