Svalbards miljøvernfond har gitt midler til AECOs clean seas prosjekt
The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) is an international association for expedition cruise operators in the Arctic and others with interests in this industry. AECO has 69 international members and the geographic range encompasses the Arctic area: with Svalbard being a core area. AECO is dedicated to managing responsible, environmentally friendly, and safe tourism in the Arctic and strives to set the highest possible operating standards.
For over 20 years, members of AECO have been engaged in cleanup activities in the Arctic and witnessing the growing amount of garbage that floats ashore on these beaches. In addition, operators have been altering facilities and practices on board vessels in an effort to reduce single-use plastic. This fostered a discussion on how the industry as a whole could contribute more. In 2018, AECO decided to step up the association’s efforts to combat marine plastic pollution by launching its Clean Seas project. AECO signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and is contributing to #CleanSeas, a UN-led campaign to combat marine plastic pollution.
AECO’s Clean Seasproject aims to significantly reduce the use of single-use plastics on board vessels, enhance cleanup efforts, educate and motivate passengers, staff, and crew, and share knowledge and best practices. To meet these goals, AECO developed educational materials to inform passengers on how visitors to the Arctic can help clean up shorelines and reduce their plastic footprint, including two sets of guidelines (Clean Up Svalbard Guidelines and Clean Seas Guidelines for Visitors to the Arctic). A poster for vessels and an animation video were published to communicate the guidelines to tourists. AECO also conducted assessments of single-use waste on board vessels in order to develop best practices for plastic-free alternatives and solutions for reducing waste. AECO contributed to scientific projects, such as SALT’s Deep Dives, on the origin of marine litter in Svalbard. AECO’s Clean Seas project received global recognition when it was selected as the winner of the 2020 National Energy Globe Award for Norway. AECO presented on the Clean Seas project in various conferences and meetings, including the International Symposium on Plastics in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Region and a workshop co-hosted by the Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council entitled Policy and Action on Plastics in the Arctic Ocean.