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Member Obligations



Marketing and Planning

Operators, Provisional Operators and Associates are all requested to ensure that their marketing materials are consistent with the obligations set out in the Bylaws.

In addition, it is requested over time, that companies phase out of brochures and other marketing materials direct mention of specific sites (e.g., Deception Island, Paradise Bay, etc.) to reduce the pressure for all vessels to visit these sites on every departure.

Authorization Process

As stated in Article III, Section B of the Bylaws, Operators and Provisional Operators are required to go through an authorization process with their respective National Authority. IAATO requires copies of these documents, along with the final authorization or acknowledgement letter, to be submitted to the Secretariat before the start of the operator’s Antarctic season.

Also, as stated in Article III, Section B, if the organizer is registered in a country that is not Party to the Antarctic Treaty, or whose country has not yet implemented the Environmental Protocol, the organizer must submit the equivalent required documentation to the IAATO Secretariat no later than 30 days prior to the commencement of the organizer’s first program of the season.

Examples of documentation:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
  • Initial Environmental Evaluation (IEE)
  • Act implementing Environmental Protection (AIEP)
  • Advance Notification
  • Permit for Activities/Activities Permit
  • Waste Permit
  • GSGSSI Permit

Ship Scheduler


Category 1 & 2 vessel operators (Carrying less than 500 passengers) and organizers of sailing (e.g., yachts) or motor vessels carrying 12 or fewer passengers are asked to log their planned itineraries into the IAATO Ship Scheduler in advance of the operating season. For those who operate Category 1 & 2 vessels on the Antarctic Peninsula this is a particularly important mechanism to help ensure that no two ships are booked at the same place at the same time.

Cruise-only vessels (501+ passengers) making no landings and Yacht organizers are also asked to input their schedules, although Yacht organizers can simply enter a region (e.g., Antarctic Peninsula) rather than the specific sites they intend to visit. This is because these itineraries tend to be more flexible and less predictable with respect to weather. Yacht organizers are not required to pre-schedule the specific sites they intend to visit, however vessels with lengths greater than 50m and/or over 300GT should utilize the ship schedule platform for coordination of activities.

The Ship Scheduler is also set up to limit the number of landed visits per day in line with Antarctic Treaty Site Guidelines for Visitors. Site visits are allocated on a first-come first-served basis once the scheduler opens.

How to Access the Scheduler

The Ship Scheduler is accessible through the IAATO Database. The Ship Scheduler can be accessed with an admin account or an account with ship scheduler permissions. To make bookings or alter itineraries, the user will also need the vessel specific six digit pin number. In order to ensure equanimity in the system, only one computer can log in under each vessel at a time. A user manual for the Ship Scheduler can be found on the landing page of the scheduler once you have logged in. For anyone new to the Ship Scheduler process, this manual will answer many of your questions.

When the Ship Scheduler Opens for Site Bookings

The Ship Scheduler usually on a Wednesday around mid-July for the following season. The actual date is dictated by the timetable of the IAATO Annual Meeting and the ATCM, and can be found in the Member’s Only section of the IAATO Website. The date is also circulated to all Operators by email approximately six months before the opening takes place.

How to Prepare

Well in advance of the opening, an email of annual updates will be sent around to the operators confirming the date and start time that the Scheduler opens and providing a link to a dedicated “practice” site for those who are new to the scheduling process or who want to refresh their memory on how the scheduler works. Using this practice site and being familiar with the user manual and the memo of annual updates will help ensure that those responsible for loading site-specific itineraries into the scheduler will be as well prepared as possible for the actual opening.

In advance of the opening, operators are encouraged to load the core information about their voyages. This includes their turnaround ports and dates, the name(s) of the expedition leader(s) and, importantly, the voyage number which is made up of a unique three letter code allocated to each vessel and the voyage start date in DDMMYYYY (e.g. OCN02NOV2013 would apply to the m/v Ocean Nova sailing on 02 November 2013).

IAATO General Booking Guidelines (Section 08 of the Field Operations Manual) should be reviewed in preparation for the Ship Scheduler Opening.

When Does the Scheduler Close and Who Has Access to the Information?

The Ship Scheduler will remain open until the end of the season. Schedule changes during the season can be made through the Live Ship Scheduler. The Live Ship Scheduler is a tool that can be utilized by Expedition staff in the field to make real time changes to their schedule and see where other vessels are in the area.

A detailed guide outlining the Live Ship Scheduler can be found in Section 08 of the Field Operations Manual.

An alternative to the Live Ship Scheduler is the Offline Ship Scheduler, used primarily by sailing vessels and yachts who have limited bandwidth. This process allows a vessel to request an up to date copy of the season’s schedule and make changes to their schedule via email. Offline Ship Scheduler Instructions can be found in Section 09 of the Field Operations Manual.

An excel file of the season’s initial bookings will be shared amongst Operators and added to the Field Operations Manual.  In addition, pre-season schedules, along with other selected information, is circulated to Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs), the Secretariat of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) and selected others. This is done on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with IAATO which does not allow that data to be circulated beyond their immediate organization.

Vessel Database


IAATO maintains a database for all vessel operators to load the technical information for their vessels. This includes a wide range of information including the vessel’s ice class, flag state, classification society, life-saving equipment, fuel used, communication details, etc.

What is the Information Used For?

The vessel information stored in the database is used for a variety of purposes. This includes generating the annual contact sheet (EMER) for those vessels operating in the field (including email addresses, telephone and fax numbers, MMSI numbers, Call Signs, etc.). In addition, the IAATO Secretariat uses it as a resource for information when involved in negotiations with the IMO or Antarctic Treaty Parties at the ATCMs. Lastly, the MRCCs also have access to the database so that if an incident occurs and an IAATO vessel is called upon to assist, those coordinating the rescue know what assets are available to them (e.g., the number of beds, medical facilities, helicopter capability, diving capability, etc.)

How do I Access the Vessel Database?

Vessel information can be reviewed and/or updated through the IAATO Database, and requires an Admin login or a login with Company Management permissions.

Operator Obligation

It is the obligation of each operator to ensure that the data stored in the vessel database (communications, etc.) is kept up-to-date. This information is important for general purposes, but can be critically important in the event of an incident. Annually, Operators will be required to review and confirm (by signing off) that this information is correct along with their information in the Member Directory. A reminder regarding the Annual confirmation will be sent to Operators via email, as well as a reminder pop-up in the database until the information is confirmed.

Vessel-Tracking System

A) Introduction

The IAATO vessel-tracking system is a requirement for all IAATO SOLAS passenger vessels, and tracks the “IAATO Fleet” on a single website that can be monitored by Members, Maritime Rescue Coordination Centers (MRCCs) and relevant government agencies. Participation in the IAATO vessel tracking scheme with hourly reporting is a requirement of membership for all IAATO SOLAS passenger vessels while operating in Antarctic waters (area south of 60 degrees latitude).

More information about this requirement can be found in the IAATO Marine Safety Notice 2009-01 found in Section 08 of the Field Operations Manual.


  1. IAATO yacht operators that carry 12 or fewer passengers are not required to participate in the tracking system.
  2. Some operators choose to use the tracking system as a marketing tool by displaying real-time maps of the vessel’s positions on their corporate websites. For this purpose, the operator must implement a separate proprietary “fleet” at additional cost, and not make the “IAATO fleet” publicly available in this manner.

B) Accessing the Website:

The tracking system is paid for by IAATO member-operators. The real-time information contained on the website is potentially of a commercial-in-confidence nature, and some IAATO members have voiced their concerns regarding the general availability of this data. Accordingly, IAATO requests that Operators do not distribute the fleet name and password outside of their respective organizations.

Fleet: IAATO
Password: Contact the IAATO Secretariat ( for the current password

C) How Does the Vessel Tracking System Work?

IAATO Members must purchase and install the dedicated iridium-based RedPort Iridium Solar Edge, which runs on solar power and has a rechargeable battery and a 10 year operational service life. The backup battery capacity provides 2x per day reporting for up to 5 years with no solar availability.

Ship positions are logged into the system and portrayed through a dedicated password-protected website. Positions are logged on an hourly basis, but can be “pinged” from shore for positions every 15 minutes in the case of an emergency.

D) What Information is Available and How is it Shown?

By clicking on the vessel’s name in the toolbox, a pop-up box displays an image of the vessel and key information (e.g. vessel call sign and IMO number, position, course and speed). Historic positions are stored on the database, and the website is capable of portraying the positions for up to one month previously on the map. Data can also be linked into Google Earth, where it can be layered with recent ice information (e.g., from Polar View).

E) How is the Information Used?

Marine Rescue Coordination Centers (MRCCs) in Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, UK and the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) have full access to the website. Information on the website can be coupled with detailed contact information for the vessels and the IAATO database, which describes each vessel’s attributes and asset resources in the case of an incident. The tracking system has also proven useful when unidentified distress signals were received by MRCCs who then requested IAATO vessels to deviate and verify the authenticity of the signals.

In the future, the archival data may be used for analysis of the spatial and temporal distribution of IAATO SOLAS passenger vessels, and any related trends over time. This analysis would be useful for tourism-related management and monitoring purposes.

Contact Information

IAATO Operator and Provisional Operator Members that operate SOLAS passenger vessels should contact Pivotel for installation and activation information. Further details can be found on the Pivotel website.

Pivotel Support

Looking forward…

The system offers significant potential for day-to-day tourism management, and can provide data for the assessment of potential cumulative environmental impact related to tourism activities. Archival data is stored by IAATO. It is also capable of geographic zoning and logging when a vessel enters or departs an area (e.g. sending an alert when a site becomes free for the next operator to land, or notifies a pilot station when a vessel is on its approach.

Field Operations Manual


IAATO has a Field Operations Manual (FOM) that is provided to Operators electronically. The complete FOM can also be found online in the Field Staff section of the website, or can be accessed by downloading the FOM Sync App to your desktop. All versions of the FOM are updated prior to  and during the season with relevant information and changes.

The FOM contains all the key standard operating procedures, environmental guidelines and relevant site-specific data that field operators need to follow. In addition the FOM includes all the seasonal information such as the pre-season schedules, contact information for vessels or in the case of emergencies, research station and vessel contact information as provided by COMNAP. The intention of the FOM is to ensure that all operators and those in the field have the relevant information readily available in a standardized format.

The FOM is also a useful resource for Field Staff when taking the mandatory  Online Assessment before each season.

Online Field Staff Assessment


IAATO provides an online assessment for field staff to test their working knowledge of the contents of the FOM. The intent behind this service is to provide a free-to-the-user training mechanism for new field staff to test their knowledge of matters relevant to Antarctic guiding. The online assessment also serve as a mechanism for established field staff to refresh their knowledge and ensure they are familiar with new information prior to the season commencing.

Currently the online assessment offers test modules for:

  • Antarctic Peninsula for Expedition Leaders
  • Peninsula & South Georgia for Expedition Leaders
  • Peninsula & South Georgia for Expedition Guides
  • Antarctic Peninsula for Expedition Guides
  • Ross Sea for Expedition Leaders and Guides
  • Cruise Only for Expedition Staff
  • Vessel Officers and Crew
  • Deep Field Operations for Expedition Staff
  • Home Office Staff
  • IAATO Observers
  • Staff Without IAATO Employer

How do Field Staff Access the Online Assessment?

The Online Assessment is accessed through the Online Assessments page in the Field Staff area of the website. This area also hosts a copy of the FOM, so those taking part in the assessment also have access to the FOM at the time of taking the assessment.

Field Staff users will need an account to access the Field Staff area of the website. Operators are responsible for creating these accounts through the Company Management section of the IAATO Database.

For any questions regarding registering staff on the IAATO website, please email Erin Delaney.

On the Online Assessment platform, Field Staff will need to create their own account. Please make sure they are aware of which of the above list of assessments they need to register for. For any questions regarding the Online Assessment, please email IAATO Survey Test.

What Happens to the Results?

The results of an assessment go to the participant with a copy being held by IAATO. An instant Certificate of Achievement is available for download to those who pass one of the assessments. The online assessment certificate aims to provide a confirmation of your training and experience.

What is the Operator’s Obligation?

It is mandatory that ALL Field Staff must take an IAATO Online Assessment each season. It is also mandatory to pass the IAATO Online Assessment to guide in South Georgia, and the certificate must be included as part of the South Georgia clearance procedures.

As always, feedback is encouraged.