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Cruise tourists clean Svalbard beach

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16 cubic metres of waste collected and disposed of
Environmentally-minded tourists on board Oceanwide Expeditions vessel Ortelius have once again been cleaning beaches in northwest Spitsbergen.
The clean-up cruise going by the name Eco Volunteer North Spitsbergen ended recently and was a continuation of last year’s success. Tourists on these specially-designed cruises spend half of their time cleaning beaches of detritus washed up by the tide.
Some 16 cubic metres of waste was collected from a total of 7.5 kilometres of beach, slightly more than a similar trip on the same vessel last year. The garbage was sorted on board and has now been disposed of in a proper manner.
The cleaning efforts were concentrated in the historically important areas around Danskøya and Amsterdamøya in the Northwest Spitsbergen National Park, which are significant sites associated with the late-19th century race to the North Pole as well as 17th century whaling ventures.
The sites were selected in cooperation with the Sysselmannen, the governor of Svalbard, which provided support with large storage bags and burlap sacks. The refuse is mainly discarded fishing gear and plastics, breaking down to roughly 40% nets and ropes, 40% plastic, 10% floats, 10% miscellaneous objects.
“Once again I have been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of the passengers for their cleaning task and their disappointment once the job is over,” said expedition leader Jim Mayer.
In recent years more and more focus has been on the immense quantity of rubbish, in particular plastics, which is dumped into the world’s oceans. Although the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard is very remote, the Gulf Current terminates in this area bringing up untold tons of garbage every year. Oceanwide Expeditions completed its first Clean Up Svalbard trip in 2015.
TTG Nordic

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