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AECO bans drone use in the Arctic

Christian, Grand Espaces
Travelers to Arctic areas experience nature and wildlife, remoteness and silence - which may be disturbed by drone use
Passengers traveling with members of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators will not be allowed to use drones when visiting the Arctic.

AECO said members have the leeway to allow unmanned aerial vehicles for special purposes such as research or film projects.

The policy concurs with that of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, whose members recently voted to forbid recreational use of UAVs in Antarctica.

With the use of UAVs increasing throughout the world comes the risk of disturbing people and wildlife, AECO said. Noise might be an issue and there's the risk of litter if a drone gets out of control and is lost.

'Travelers to pristine Arctic areas enjoy unique nature and wildlife experiences, remoteness and silence. AECO finds that some of these values may be at risk if the general use of UAVs is allowed to continue to increase in the Arctic,' the association said Friday.

'We do not want guests to use UAVs to try to get closer to wildlife and risk disturbance of animals, birds or other guests,' AECO executive director Frigg Jørgensen elaborated. 'It would also be very unfortunate if a UAV is lost and cannot be retrieved from Arctic nature areas,' she added.

The AECO ban applies to most expedition cruise passengers in the Arctic; the majority of cruise ships that visit Svalbard, Greenland, Canada, the National Park of Russian Arctic and Jan Mayen are association members. Those number 25 operators with 30 vessels.

Approximately 17,000 passengers are projected to cruise in the Arctic aboard a vessel operated by an AECO member in 2015.