The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) has announced a number of measure aimed at strengthening responsible industry practices – including a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic.
Current practice among the association’s members is to refrain from using HFO when sailing in the Arctic, but this has now been formalized as a mandatory guideline.
AECO was an early signatory of the global Arctic Commitment campaign, which calls for a phase-out of polluting heavy fuel oil (HFO) from Arctic shipping.
According to AECO’s executive director, Frigg Jørgensen, banning HFO has broad support among the association’s members.
“AECO represents the great majority of operators that offer expedition cruising in the Arctic,” he says. “By formalizing this ban, the expedition cruise industry is sending a message to decision-makers that it is time to act to protect the Arctic from the risk of HFO pollution.”
The organisation’s recent annual meeting also decided that it should concentrate its focus on its core segment – namely expedition cruising.
AECO is stepping up efforts in Iceland and has established an Iceland resource group.
Together with Icelandic partners, the association is looking into how expedition cruise operators can contribute to beach clean-ups in Iceland.
Several new Arctic guidelines were made mandatory in preparation for the 2020 Arctic cruise season, including Clean Seas Guidelines for Visitors, Vegetation Guidelines, Cultural Remains Guidelines, Yacht Guidelines and Community Specific Guidelines for Seyðisfjörður, Sisimiut and Ny-Ålesund.
Seven new specific guidelines for communities in Greenland and Canada are in the pipeline.
AECO’s members have also decided that all field staff working for AECO members should be required to retake AECO’s Field Staff Online Assessment prior to each season to ensure that they have updated knowledge about AECO guidelines as well as relevant laws and regulations.