AECO: Protecting Wildlife and Nature

Expedition vessels sailing in Svalbard can coordinate their itineraries with other operators to reduce the pressure on popular sites, according to Frigg Jorgensen, executive director of the Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO).

Most of the expedition ship operators sailing in Svalbard are members of the organization.

Jorgensen told Cruise Industry News that the AECO also works very closely with the governor of Svalbard to ensure that visitors tread carefully, both literally and figuratively.

“With increased cruise tourism, we see the need for cooperation and coordination in the industry, to ensure sustainability, and to avoid negative impact and conflicts,” she added.

The AECO has developed and manages many measures to safeguard the environment, including site specific guidelines that give detailed instructions on how to carry out visits outside of the settlements. The authorities have also designed guidelines for landings in five sites so far. Nine additional sites have been proposed for guidelines as well and are expected to enter into force by the 2018 season.

With the high number of new expedition vessels to be delivered over the next five years, Jorgensen said that 50 percent growth in expedition passengers is expected by 2019.

“There is room for more well-managed and coordinated expedition cruising in Svalbard,” she said, “and there are no limits yet on the number of vessels or passengers.

“The ideal cruise scenario is a modern harbor in Longyearbyen, organized reception and tours, a significant contribution to the local economy, and minimum impact on nature and wildlife, while ensuring passengers’ safety and great experiences.”

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