Expedition Cruise Industry Says “No” to HFO in Arctic

Credit: AECO
Credit: AECO

Published Nov 13, 2019 6:39 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators has announced a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic.

The current practice among the association’s members is to refrain from using HFO when sailing in the Arctic. This practice has now been formalized as a mandatory guideline. AECO was an early signatory of the Arctic Commitment which calls for a phase-out of HFO from Arctic shipping.

AECO is also stepping up environmental efforts in Iceland and has established an Iceland resource group. Together with Icelandic partners, the association is also looking into how expedition cruise operators can contribute to beach clean-ups in Iceland.

Several new Arctic guidelines have been made mandatory in preparation for the 2020 Arctic cruise season. These include 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 has 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.

Late last year, AECO signed the Travel and Tourism Declaration on Illegal Trade in Wildlife. The Association signed the Buenos Aires Declaration which states that signatories cannot knowingly facilitate the carriage or sale of illegally traded wildlife products. 

AECO has committed to a zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal trade in wildlife products and encourages visitors to the Arctic to support local communities by buying legal and sustainable products. Guests traveling with AECO operators are not permitted to collect stones, bones, antlers, driftwood, flowers, plants and other items from nature. However, purchasing local souvenirs and products is encouraged.