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Funding for Arctic oil spill response project

July 1, 2020 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

A sum of NOK 360 000 has been awarded to the Norwegian Coastal Administration and AECO  through the Arctic Council’s Emergency, Prevention,  Preparedness and Response (EPPR) working group  This will contribute towards the launch of NEPTUNE, a project to investigate if expedition cruise vessels can be used in Arctic oil spill preparedness and response.

A project to enhance the collective preparedness in the Arctic through utilizing the resources of the Arctic expedition cruise industry, could be coming to fruition thanks to a grant received this week.

Given the increase of Arctic expedition cruise vessels on the water in recent years, ships may cover a relatively wide area during the main season and their presence in many areas could represent a resource. In the event of an incident at sea, or on land, expedition cruise vessels may be the first on site and potentially able to act as first responders before larger and professional resources can reach the site. The majority of the 50 to 60 passenger vessels that operate in the Arctic are AECO members and in many ways act as a safety net, should something go wrong in a remote area.

‘We are delighted to have received this grant, as it will help to facilitate a safer future for the fragile Arctic environment in the face of human related incidences such as oil spills. The network of expedition vessels in an area can become a powerful recourse and an important incident management tool.’ Says Frigg Jørgensen, Executive Director of AECO.

Through collaboration with the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the project hopes to develop relations between oil spill authorities and responders, develop exercises for expedition cruise vessels taking part in oil spill preparedness and response, and survey relevant equipment onboard vessels, as just some of the planned actions.

Bear with oil drum in Baffin Bay, photo by Doug Gould

The Arctic expedition cruise industry coordinated by AECO has since years worked with the Arctic Search and Rescue (SAR) community to enhance Arctic SAR preparedness and response.

This is an Arctic Council – EPPR funded project, in collaboration with the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

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