Conceptualizing and enhancing the argument for port state control in the antarctic gateway states

Jason R. Swanson, Daniela Liggett, Gabriela Roldan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Antarctica is a global commons-an area recognized internationally as a shared resource outside of state jurisdiction. As with any global commons, the protection of the public good lies within the public interest. A wide array of regulation is required to protect the public interest in common goods from adverse impacts arising from unsustainable private sector behaviours. In the Antarctic context, tourist transportation to the continent can threaten the natural environment, particularly when Antarctic tourist vessels are involved in accidents, which has occurred at least 11 times since 2007. Many of these accidents, as well as most seafaring accidents in general, involve ships flying flags of convenience. More than 44% of vessels carrying tourists to Antarctica were flagged by states that are not party to the Antarctic Treaty System. This, coupled with the increasing demand for Antarctic tourism experiences, raises concern about how best to ensure the safety of the vessels and limit the risks posed to the natural environment. Port state control of Antarctic-bound tourist vessels in gateway states could be part of the solution but has yet to gain full acceptance. Port state control allows port state authorities to inspect the operating condition, machinery, safety systems and crew of a foreign vessel in its ports. Failed inspections can result in detention until the problems are remedied. This research confirms the need for standard regulations of tourist vessels among gateway states that should include inspection of equipment, engines, crew and hygiene conditions for crew and passengers as well as publicly available information about all ship inspections. However, before port state controls can be consistently implemented across all gateway states, research on the states’ current policy and capacity is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-385
Number of pages25
JournalPolar Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Antarctic gateways
  • Antarctic tourism
  • Cruise ships
  • Global commons
  • Port state control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (all)
  • Social Sciences (all)


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