AECO's new environmental agent to tackle plastic litter

Sarah Auffret will help combat marine plastic pollution as AECO’s environmental agent Sarah Auffret will help combat marine plastic pollution as AECO’s environmental agent (Photo: AECO)

The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators has hired an environmental agent who will lead efforts to drastically cut back single-use plastics on Arctic expedition cruise ships and enhance passengers' involvement in regular beach cleanups.

Sarah Auffret, who has a background as a G Adventures expedition leader on cruises in Svalbard, East Greenland and the Antarctic Peninsula and as base leader of Port Lockroy, was selected from a pool of highly qualified candidates.

Sharing best practices to reduce plastics

Auffret’s extensive experience in polar tourism will come in handy in her new role, where she will lead the work to collect, systematize and share best practices to help reduce plastics consumption on expedition cruise ships.

According to AECO executive director Frigg Jørgensen, the expedition cruise industry can make a big contribution in the fight to combat marine plastic litter.

'Marine litter is one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time,' she said. An opportunity for the Arctic expedition cruise industry to get involved presented itself when AECO received an invitation from Erik Solheim, UN environment executive cirector, to join the Clean Seas Campaign.

AECO supports the campaign and will be taking actions to beat plastic pollution. 'Now, our commitment has been given additional momentum by the fact that we have been able to secure external funding to further develop our Clean Seas initiatives,' Jørgensen said.

The new project position was made possible by funding from the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund and the Norwegian Environmental Directorate, which granted a total of 2.4m Norwegian kroner ($308,000) to AECO’s Clean Seas efforts.

Beach cleanups by passengers and crew

In addition to working on preventive measures, AECO's new environmental agent will help coordinate beach cleanups carried out by expedition cruise passengers and crew. Auffret, who initiated a coastal cleanup movement in Naruto, Japan, in 2010 and has a long-standing passion for environmental issues, looks forward to spearheading AECO’s Clean Seas efforts.

'As Arctic tourism grows, I strongly feel we have the opportunity, duty and responsibility to examine, study and implement the best possible practices to ensure we have the lowest possible impact on the environment and communities we visit,' she said. 'I was excited to hear about the environmental agent position and I am delighted to take on this important job.'

Auffret will be based in Tromsø, Norway, with work periods in Svalbard.

Posted 02 May 2018

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Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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