AECO Basic Biosecurity Measures


Help protect the Arctic Environment from non-native species
Despite known introductions of non-native species, many areas of the Arctic remain relatively pristine environments. Through AECO’s boot, clothing and equipment decontamination programme, Silversea works to minimise the risk of future impacts from non-native species to the Arctic.
How can you be a responsible visitor?
AECO’s boot, clothing and equipment decontamination programme involves cleaning of boots and vacuum cleaning of visitor’s clothes and backpacks before visits to non-inhabited sites in the Arctic.
This is how you can help before leaving for the Arctic:
Examine and clean clothes and footwear thoroughly
Examine all clothing, including pockets, seams, Velcro fasteners, and boot soles for dirt and organic material.
Pack clean gear
Make sure your gear and outdoor equipment are newly cleaned and free of dirt and organic material. Even if your gear is still dirty from a previous trip to the Arctic, you could be transporting non-native species.
How might non-native species hitch a ride with you?
• Backpacks • Outdoor equipment • Walking sticks and tripods
• Boots and shoes • Trouser hems and turn-ups  
• Camera bags • Velcro and fleece  
This is how you can help before leaving for the Arctic:
1.   Follow the boot and clothing decontamination procedures on your expedition. This is especially important if you are moving between distinct geographic regions (e.g. between eastern and western Svalbard, or between Svalbard and Greenland, which have different climate zones and vegetation) but also if moving between distinct landing sites.
2.   Watch your step. Be careful when walking in areas that contain organic matter, as this can be easily transported to other areas. If you do notice organic matter on boots, clothing or gear, make sure to clean it off before leaving a site and use the disinfectant wash between visits.
3.   Spread the word. Share this information with others and help protect the Arctic environment.
Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO)
AECO is an international organization for cruise operators. The organisation’s main objective is to ensure that expedition cruises and tourism in the Arctic are carried out with the utmost consideration for the fragile, natural environment, local cultures and cultural remains, while ensuring safe tour operations at sea and on land.
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Non-native species — a potential threat to the Arctic environment
Non-native species represent a threat to biodiversity as they can cause serious negative impacts to the natural environment. Increasing human activities in the Arctic means a greater chance of more non-native species introductions.
Non-native species
Non-native species are those species that do not occur naturally in an area, which have been introduced either intentionally or unintentionally. While there is a chance that non-native organisms are introduced by natural means (e.g. birds, sea ice), this occurs at a far lower frequency than human-assisted introductions. Humans can facilitate non-native species introduction in a number of ways: in or on ships, attached to clothing or equipment, or even on food. A range of non-native species occur in the Arctic.
Despite the harsh environmental conditions present in the Arctic, research has shown that about one quarter of all introduced plant seeds are capable of germinating in Svalbard; this amount will only increase as the area warms due to climate change. AECO takes this issue seriously by working with expedition cruise operators to reduce the risk of non-native species introduction to the Arctic.
Types of non-native species that have already arrived in the Arctic
• Vascular plants (seeds and grasses) • Invertebrates (aquatic and terrestrial) • Fungi
• Mammals • Microorganisms  
AECO’s decontamination and research programmes
AECO has taken initiatives to reduce the risk of guests introducing non-native species to Svalbard. These measures that have been funded by the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund include the decontamination of guest’s boots, clothing and equipment. In cooperation with researchers from the University Centre in Svalbard and the University of Tromsø, members of AECO also participate in a study to test the effectiveness of this programme. This study focuses on two aspects of the decontamination process:
1.   The use of cleaning and disinfectant to ensure footwear is clean of organisms
2.   Measuring how well clothing, backpacks and equipment is cleaned of seeds and organic material