Economy of Antarctica

No economic activity is conducted at present in Antarctica, except for fishing off the coast and small-scale tourism, both based abroad. Antarctic fisheries in 1998-1999 (July 1- June 30) 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. A total of 10,013 tourists visited in the 1998-1999 summer, up from the 9,604 who visited the previous year. Nearly all of them were passengers on 16 commercial (nongovernmental) ships and several yachts that made 116 trips during the summer. Most tourist trips lasted approximately two weeks.

Small-scale tourism has existed since 1957. Since 1969, over 30,000 tourists have been to Antarctica. [http://www.knet.co.za/antarctica/political.htm] As of 2006, several ships transport people to Antarctica to visit specific scenic locations. Sight-seeing flights also used to take people from Australia and New Zealand over Antarctica and back again, until the fatal crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 near Mount Erebus late in 1979.

A currency, the Antarctican dollar, has been proposed by a US company, and may be accepted at parity with the United States dollar. Although not the official currency of the continent, the currency may be used if both parties agree.


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