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Arctic cruise tourists assist plastic scientists

Next week Perrine Geraudie from Akvaplan-niva joins a cruise from Longyearbyen to Franz Josef Land with the Russian cruise operator Poseidon. The name of the boat is Sea Spirit, the cruise lasts from 13-26 August and has 200 tourists on board. During the cruise Geraudie will assist the tourists in collecting data on marine litter on the shore of the high Arctic, taking photos and adding the GPS location of the litter. She will also hold lectures for the tourists, on the Arctic ecosystem and introduce them to the plastic issue (macro-micro-nano) across the world, and in the Arctic). In September another Akvaplan-niva collegue, Carl Ballantine will join one of the Hurtigruten cruise ships to assist tourists in their data collection and hold lectures.

The cruise ship lectures are part of an environmental education program in the project «Arctic Tourism in the Barents Sea» (ArcToMaL) which is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment. The project is connected to a larger project MALINOR which is funded by the Research Council of Norway. Both projects are led by Akvaplan-niva.

The partners in the project are the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Murmansk Marine Biological Institute (MMBI) and Russian Arctic National Park (RANP).

The overall aim of the project is to increase awareness and responsibility of Arctic tourists, and to gather new knowledge about marine litter pollution in the Barents Sea and the High Arctic through citizen science, participation, cooperation and outreach. ArcToMaL complements MALINOR in developing a methodology making it feasible to have tourists assist in collecting data on marine litter in the Arctic. Whilst on cruise the tourists can take photos and note GPS coordinates of the litter that they can see along the shore of Arctic islands of Svalbard and Franz Josef Land archipelagos. This information will be sent to scientist for further processing and analysis. MMBI, RANP and AECO are involved in educating tourists on environmental issues and will also facilitate the distribution of the information. AECO members (40 expedition ships and 10 yachts) regularly contribute with observation to scientific studies and are therefore well trained in educating tourists in assisting scientists in data collection, commonly labelled as «citizens science». 

This project also includes two workshops, one in Tromsø and one in Murmansk Russia. These workshops will be arranged by Akvaplan-niva and MMBI respectively.