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Clean up Svalbard, by Dr. Roger Kirkwood

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Aurora Expeditions’ passengers and staff have excelled in the Clean Up Svalbard campaign this year with consistent collections of plastic bits and some big hauls of trawl net. It is an AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) initiative aimed at clearing the coastline of marine debris. Many sites we visit in the Svalbard archipelago have years of accumulated debris. Aurora and other tour companies are now cleaning the place up.

Many passengers find the procedure normal – it’s what they do on their beaches at home. At each landing, we take a large bag ashore. This is steadily filled as bits of plastic that are encountered along the walk – bottles, bottle-caps, bags, rope and netting. For some, it becomes a satisfying part of each landing. Occasionally, we retrieve a large haul. At Hamiltonbukta, for example, we filled a whole Zodiac with a near complete trawl net. It took six people to pull this up from the rocks and carry it back.

All the rubbish collected is deposited in large yellow ‘Clean Up Svalbard’ bins provided beside the wharf at Longyearbyen. Hopefully, over time we will see a reduction in the amount of plastic debris along these remote and ‘near-pristine’ coastlines.

With the help of Aurora Expeditions and other operators, over 3,720kg of waste have been collected since the Clean Up Svalbard bins were last emptied. This is a great effort by all and our passengers are proud to have contributed to this cause. If you would like to contribute at home, we highly encourage you to find out how you can get involved as part of World Cleanup Day on the 15th of September.

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