Arctic cruise operators mark World Cleanup Day
Throughout the Arctic cruise season, expedition cruise passengers choose to put away their binoculars and roll up their sleeves to collect litter from Arctic beaches. These volunteer efforts are part of the industry’s efforts to combat marine plastic pollution.
Going on an expedition cruise in the Arctic means getting close to nature and experiencing remote and unique places. While the ships follow a strict policy of leaving no trace from their visit, passengers and crew often find marine litter which has been carried by ocean currents and ended up on these remote beaches. Fortunately, the visitors are eager to help out.
Members of Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) have been involved in beach cleanups in the Arctic for almost two decades. These efforts have intensified over the past two summers after AECO joined the UN-led Clean Seas campaign.
As part of these efforts, AECO is working to drastically cut back on single-use plastics on Arctic expedition cruise vessels, as well as enhance cruise passengers’ involvement in beach cleanups. AECO is also focusing on educating passengers, staff and the public on what they can personally do to reduce single-use plastic and prevent it from ending up in the ocean.
AECO’s environmental specialist Melissa Nacke says that there is great initiative in the expedition cruise industry to be part of the solution.
“We see that member regularly involve passengers in beach cleanups and use this as a starting point for educating guests about the problem of marine plastic pollution. We are celebrating World Cleanup Day on September 21, but for our members, every day in the field is a cleanup day. Our members are also working to cut back on single-use items on their ships, for example, by getting rid of disposable water bottles and plastic food containers. We believe that making these visible changes can help raise awareness among passengers and inspire more conscious consumer habits,” says Nacke.
AECO has also developed guidelines targeted at visitors to the Arctic. The guidelines provide travelers with information on responsible solutions to reducing their waste and plastic footprint before, during and after their trip.