AECO: Tour operators’ efforts to tackle Arctic marine litter highlighted in new video

AECO's Clean Seas Project

The Arctic expedition cruise industry has vowed to leave Arctic beaches cleaner than they find them. In addition, they are working to address the problem at its source. The industry’s efforts to combat marine plastic pollution is presented in a new information video.

“Leave no trace”, is a guiding principle for considerate tourism in ecologically sensitive areas. The members of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) have decided to take this ethic one step further by cleaning up beach litter in the areas that they visit. These clean-ups are part of a greater effort to beat marine plastic pollution through education and new solutions to reduce the use of single-use items on passenger vessels.

According to Melissa Nacke, AECO’s environmental specialist, the industry aims to be part of the solution to this global problem. A new video explains how the association is working to address marine litter though their Clean Seas Project.

“Our members sail to remote locations where travelers go to experience the unique nature and rich culture. They see first-hand how litter transported by ocean currents can impact the local environment. Inspired to act, thousands of passengers and staff volunteer in Arctic beach cleanups every year. Our members visit the same landing sites year after year, and it’s clear that these cleanups make a difference. At the beginning of the season, a beach may be littered with everything from fishing nets to plastic containers that have drifted there over the winter. At the end of the season, some beaches been cleaned so thoroughly that they are completely free of visible debris,” says Nacke.

While cruise ships are generally not a source of marine litter in the Arctic, the association’s members are also reducing their plastic footprint by rethinking how things are done on their ships.

“This project helps our members to carefully consider the choices they make when selecting the products that they use on board. All of our surveyed members have implemented sustainable alternatives such as refillable bottles, plastic-free buffets, and biodegradable packaging. Educating guests is also an important part of the project. The combination of seeing the sustainable choices made on the ship and cleaning up Arctic beaches sends a powerful message to travelers,” says Nacke.

In addition to taking action on ships and Arctic beaches, AECO collaborates with researchers and local partners to raise awareness and build the knowledge needed to confront this global problem.

(AECO)

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