Economy of Antarctica
There is no economic activity in Antarctica at present, except for fishing off the coast and small-scale tourism, both based outside Antarctica.
Although coal, hydrocarbons, iron ore, platinum, copper, chromium, nickel, gold and other minerals have been found, they have not been in large enough quantities to exploit. The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty also restricts a struggle for resources. In 1998, a compromise agreement was reached to place an indefinite ban on mining, to be reviewed in 2048, further limiting economic development and exploitation. The primary economic activity is the capture and offshore trading of fish. Antarctic fisheries in 2000-01 reported landing 112,934 tonnes.
There has been some concern over the potential adverse environmental and ecosystem effects caused by the influx of visitors. Some environmentalists and scientists have made a call for stricter regulations for ships and a tourism quota. The primary response by Antarctic Treaty Parties has been to develop, through their Committee for Environmental Protection and in partnership with IAATO, "site use guidelines" setting landing limits and closed or restricted zones on the more frequently visited sites. Antarctic sightseeing flights (which did not land) operated out of Australia and New Zealand until the fatal crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 in 1979 on Mount Erebus, which killed all 257 aboard. Qantas resumed commercial overflights to Antarctica from Australia in the mid-1990s.
Antarctic fisheries in 1998-99 (1 July - 30 June) reported landing 119,898 tonnes. Unregulated fishing landed five to six times more than the regulated fishery, and allegedly illegal fishing in Antarctic waters in 1998 resulted in the seizure (by France and Australia) of at least eight fishing ships. See Ocean fisheries § Southern Ocean.
About thirty countries maintain about seventy research stations (40 year-round or permanent, and 30 summer-only) in Antarctica, with an approximate population of 4000 in summer and 1000 in winter.
The ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 "AQ" is assigned to the entire continent regardless of jurisdiction. Different country calling codes and currencies are used for different settlements, depending on the administrating country. The Antarctican dollar, a souvenir item sold in the United States and Canada, is not legal tender.
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