French polar chief derides Antarctic cruise as a jaunt
PARIS (AFP) - The head of France's polar science institute voiced fury on Friday at the misadventures of a Russian ship trapped in Antarctic ice, deriding what he called a tourists' trip that had diverted resources from real science.
In an interview with AFP, Yves Frenot, director of the French Polar Institute, said he had no issue at all with rescuing those aboard the stricken vessel.
But, he said, the trip itself was a "pseudo-scientific expedition" that, because it had run into difficulties, had drained resources from the French, Chinese and Australian scientific missions in Antarctica. "There's no reason to place Antarctica off-limits and to keep it just for scientists, but this tourism has to be monitored and regulated so that operators can be sure of getting help if need be," he said.
The Russian vessel, the Akademik Shokalskiy, became stuck on December 24 in frozen seas, 100 nautical miles east of the French Antarctic base, Dumont d'Urville.