An initiative to end the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic shipping was launched on 6 October at the EU-led Our Ocean conference in Malta.
The commitment is intended to expand collaboration between the cruise industry, environmental NGOs, and indigenous communities in order to protect Arctic people and ecosystems.
Not only do spills pose a threat to Arctic flora and fauna, but burning HFO as a marine fuel contributes to the melting of ice in the region. HFO has already been banned in the Antarctic because of the risks it poses to fragile ecosystems and wildlife, as well as the difficulty in responding to a spill in remote locations.
The Our Ocean Arctic Commitment is a multi-stakeholder collaboration that includes the Clean Arctic Alliance (an international NGO partnership), the Eyak Preservation Council (an Alaskan environmental organization), cruise operator Hurtigruten, and the European Climate Foundation.
The commitment follows the January 2017 launch of the Arctic Commitment, which aims to ban the use of the most polluting shipping fuels in Arctic waters and has been signed by over 50 Arctic companies, advocacy groups, and political figures.
“The use of heavy fuel oil has already been banned in the Antarctic, now it’s time to ban it in the Arctic as well”, says Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten. “The shipping industry must be frontrunners in promoting regulations that will secure sustainable Arctic growth”.
The aim of the initiative is to expand the Arctic Commitment to include more than 100 stakeholders and spread the word about alternatives to heavy fuel oil.