New Zealand is one of the dozen founding members of the Antarctic Treaty, along with the United States, Russia, Britain and others, and is among those leading the push for shipping regulation – particularly considering controls on cruise boats visiting the frozen continent – in order to reduce the growing threat of human and environmental disasters posed by exploding numbers of tourists. A proposal for a code to ensure ships plying the world’s southernmost seas could withstand hitting an iceberg and other measures were discussed at a recent meeting in Wellington of more than 80 experts from signatories to the Antarctic Treaty, the international accord to oversee the region. Annual tourist numbers have grown from about 10,000 a decade ago to 45,000 last year. Head of Antarctic policy at New Zealand’s foreign ministry Trevor Hughes said the sinking of the ice-strengthened Explorer was a wake-up call to Antarctic Treaty nations, and experts from all key members of the Antarctic Treaty now want a tough new code for shipping in Antarctica. “Without regulations, we are going to have a disaster where a lot of lives are lost and where oil spills out into the environment, and we see penguins being smothered and poisoned by fuel oil in their rookeries,” Hughes told The Associated Press.