AECO environment agent remembered in Cleanup for Sarah
In honor of Sarah Auffret, the environmental agent for the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) who tragically perished en route to the UN Convention in Nairobi March last year, Oceanwide Expeditions joined numerous people around the world in the AECO-organized waste removal effort known as Cleanup for Sarah on June 16, her birthday.
Sarah led AECO’s initiatives for Clean Seas, a campaign that seeks to drastically reduce single-use plastics on Arctic expedition cruise vessels while also enhancing passenger participation in Arctic beach cleanups. Clean Seas was created by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2017, and shoreline cleanups comprise a substantial portion of its efforts.
Traditionally, Oceanwide’s beach cleanups in the Arctic have taken the form of yearly waste removal events along the coasts of Spitsbergen, which are supervised by the governor of Svalbard in cooperation with AECO. For the last twenty years, Oceanwide and its guides have proudly led many of these cleanups, dedicating the June 2019 cleanup to Sarah’s memory.
But due to the current travel restrictions, Oceanwide will not be visiting Spitsbergen this season. So instead, staff have done their own cleanups either in small groups near the OEX main office in Vlissingen, Netherlands, or individually in other areas around the world.
Vlissingen cleanups were done aboard the same Zodiacs Oceanwide uses to transport passengers from vessels to shore landings. The litter removed included cans, bottles, and as in the Arctic, plastic waste from fishing vessels. All garbage was then analyzed for its recyclability and delivered to the appropriate waste removal services.
AECO began Cleanup for Sarah in cooperation with her family, and there is a page on the AECO website dedicated to the movement. On that page, participants can register and mark the location where they will do a cleanup. The world map on that webpage also shows all the locations of the cleanups, which range from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.
In honor of Sarah’s years of hard work supporting the health of the Arctic coastlines, Cleanup for Sarah takes place yearly on her birthday, June 16.