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Polar bear with plastic fishing net.jpg PHOTO: ZET FREIBURGHAUS, POLAR QUEST
Marine litter, such as these discarded fishing nets, can have a negative impact on Arctic wildlife

Arctic expedition cruise operators step up to the plastic challenge

New survey results show Arctic expedition cruise operators’ progress in combating marine plastic pollution.

This includes the reduction of single-use plastic aboard ships and organizing beach cleanups.

The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators has been working with member lines to tackle plastic waste on board and at the remote Arctic locations they visit.

High involvement in Svalbard beach cleanups

In 2018, AECO surveyed its members to determine the industry’s efforts to combat marine plastic pollution. The results of a new follow-up survey show AECO members are highly involved in beach cleanups in Svalbard with about 80% of survey respondents indicating they participated in ‘Clean Up Svalbard’ this past season as well as last year.

These members organized beach cleanups with passengers, staff and crew as part on their shore excursions on all or some of their voyages. Cleanups also took place this past season in other Arctic regions such as Greenland and Canada.

Reducing plastic waste on board

Furthermore, the new survey results indicate nearly all respondents are trying to reduce single-use plastics on board, with most efforts focused in the restaurants and bars and the wider hotel department.

The most significant challenge survey respondents cited is the availability of alternative goods in ports.

Educating travelers

Last May AECO released guidelines to help passengers reduce their single-use waste while traveling in the Arctic. These detail actions that can be taken before, during and after a trip. Survey results indicate that more than two-thirds of respondents have used AECO’s Clean Seas Guidelines for Visitors to the Arctic.

‘In addition to carrying out cleanups, AECO members are working to educate guests about this issue. We also see that operators are making great efforts to replace single-use items on ships with more sustainable options,’ AECO Executive Director Frigg Jørgensen said.

 

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