AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) has introduced 11 new site-specific guidelines for selected sites in Svalbard. It is primarily localities in Eastern Svalbard that are subject to special regulations in regard to landing-operations from cruise vessels.

AECO, which is an international association for expedition cruise operators in the Arctic, has received NOK 900.000 in funding from Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund to develop the site specific guidelines. With the latest 11 guidelines altogether 20 site specific guidelines for Svalbard has been published. AECO-members have committed themselves to use these guidelines in connection with landings of passengers at the sites.

The guidelines contain general information about the specific site, including information about possible cultural remains. A map of the site gives a clear visual idea of the area and marks out potential vulnerable places. Every site guideline contains a list of considerations that should be taken when visiting the site. In addition the guidelines have photos - illustrations and general advice on how to get a good experience.

”Use of site specific guidelines is a way to regulate behavior in order to minimize the risk of negative impact on the places visited”, said Frigg Jorgensen, AECO’s executive director. ”We are glad and thankful for the funding from the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund which together with the cooperation with researchers and specialists, have enabled us to developed guidelines for so many places in Svalbard.”

Many of the sites are not only visited by AECO-members, although a majority of the visitors that come to these places, come onboard a cruise vessel operated by one of AECO’s members. AECO does, however, encourage everybody who visits these sites to make use of the guidelines, including general guidelines for considerate behavior in the Arctic and Arctic wildlife guidelines.

The work with the guidelines has been organized in a project group, consisting of experts within biology, botany, archeology, cultural remains, navigation and tourism. One of the project partners has been NINA (the Norwegian Institute of Nature Research), which have contributed with a vulnerability-impact-model, that has been used at the sites.

AECO is an organization for expedition cruise operators dedicated to manage respectable, environmentally-friendly and safe expedition cruises in the Arctic. The 30 international members operate approximately 25 vessels all over the Arctic. AECO represents almost all of the expedition cruse operators in Svalbard. Every year 12.000 guests choose to see Svalbard from an expedition cruise vessel.