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Penguin News Update.

Friday, January 16th 2004 - 20:00 UTC
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Charter ban “irrational”; Myriam signs off after 43 years; Seven days of cruise visits; Cause of penguin deaths proven; Hospital drugs arrest.

Charter ban ?irrational' IAATO Executive Director condemns Argentine interference ARGENTINA'S decision to refuse airspace clearance for charter flights to the Falkland Islands has been described as "irrational" by the Executive Director of the International Association of Antarctic Tours Operators, IAATO. In a letter to IAATO members, Denise Landau said, "...everyone, including Argentina, stands to lose business." Ms Landau alleges having contacted the United States Department which, "...is willing to work through diplomatic channels as a concern for US businessmen and US citizens travelling." In an interview with Sue Gyford of the Falkland Islands Broadcasting Station earlier this week, Ms Landau asked, "Why does this to the tour companies that have been operating charter flights, most of them for years and years and years? "I don't know what they have against the Antarctic tour companies in particular but they are certainly using any tools that they can to cause a problem." Ms Landau said IAATO is, "...sorry that everyone has to deal with this." She said it seemed unnecessary to have forced, "...the Antarctic tour companies into a last minute changing of schedules, airplanes and ships and having to address the passengers on the ship for something the Argentine government didn't need to do." She added, "We're sorry that we've had to go through this but we're even more sorry that the Falklands is losing business..." In her letter to IAATO members, Ms Landau says, "Several of our IAATO member companies are extremely disappointed by Argentina's decision to demand that Lan Chile discontinue the charter flights from Santiago to Stanley.* "Antarctic Tourism has successfully managed to avoid political confrontations for nearly 35 years..." and, "..."is a peaceful activity inviting travellers from all over the world to travel to remote environments in the southern ocean. "Several of our member companies have chartered aircraft for many years to fly from Santiago to Stanley, giving the passengers an opportunity to have a more in depth visit to the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula by flying to or from Stanley and avoiding a day at sea." "By not allowing these flights to operate, the government of Argentina has caused both operational and economical impacts and consequences for those companies who have sold itineraries based on the ability to fly from Santiago direct to Stanley during this current season." Ms Landau also writes, "The travel business, as everyone is aware, has had difficulties (over) the last several years and the decision to prevent Lan Chile from operating charter flights from Santiago, Chile to Stanley has further created a negative problem for the Antarctic Tourism industry. "In the end everyone, including Argentina, stands to lose business versus gain by this irrational decision" PN/MP*The charter flights in fact fly to Mount Pleasant Airport, not Stanley.

Seven days of cruise visits

THE Falklands has a busy week of cruise visits ahead. Today, Orlova (with 90 passengers) is at West Point and Carcass Islands and Amsterdam (1,380) and Explorer II (200) are in Stanley. World Discoverer (188) will be at West Point and Carcass tomorrow, while the Orlova will spend the day in Stanley. On Sunday Hanseatic (194) will visit Volunteer Point before journeying to Stanley, while World Discoverer will visit Long Island and Stanley. On Tuesday, Norwegian Crown (1052) will be in Stanley and on Wednesday it will be the turn of the Royal Princess (1275). On Thursday, the Seven Seas Mariner (700) will be in Stanley.

Cause of penguin deaths proven

THE spate of penguin deaths which occurred around the Falklands during December 2002 to February 2003 has now been proven to be the result of algal poisoning, Falklands Conservation has announced. Results were received this week from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Field Veterinary Programme. Conservation Officer, Becky Ingham said, "Following the collection of samples by both Falklands Conservation staff and Wildlife Conservation Society vets visiting the Islands at the time, analysis has shown positive results for toxins from the Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) group." Analyses were conducted at the Instituo de Fomento Pesquero, Punta Arenas and were tested using a method known as high performance liquid chromatography. Ms Ingham said, "In total eleven penguins were sampled, of which five showed positive results. Some of the tissue samples tested actually contained toxin levels above those considered toxic for humans, in particular those tissues from the intestines, stomachs and stomach contents of the birds. "The positive results were all obtained from Gentoo penguins, from Steeple Jason, Sea Lion, New and Saunders Islands, leaving little doubt that it was a widespread case of poisoning that affected most of the birds around the Islands last summer, and that those animals found with clinical signs were certainly suffering from poisoning at the time of sampling." Ms Ingham also confirmed there have been isolated reports from the Queen Charlotte Bay area of sick and dying penguins this year. She added however, "...as yet this appears to be at a very low level and not a reason for concern at this stage."

Hospital drugs arrest

THE Royal Falkland Islands Police are involved in an investigation into, "...an irregularity with the handling of a controlled drug in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital." Police announced late last week that an arrest had been made in connection with the incident however a spokesperson said yesterday that no further details could yet be released

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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