07/12/2023

Arctic Waters

Our Arctic seas, the Barents Sea, and the northern parts of the North Sea are not only among our most pristine and vulnerable oceans – this is also where we find the highest concentration of marine litter.

Our goal is to keep the Arctic oceans clean and thriving, both by cleaning beaches and, even more importantly, by preventing plastic pollution from entering the sea.

The Arctic area is the home of In The Same Boat, and this is where we have been doing most of our beach cleaning since 2017. Since summer 2023 we’ve expanded from the Norwegian coastline, crossing the North Sea to Iceland, the Faroes, and Shetland, and our goal is to expand our activities to Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Bjørnøya, and Greenland.

The picture above is from the coastline of Finnmark, close to Cape North, the northernmost part of the Norwegian mainland. In these remote areas, we find the highest concentration of marine litter on the Norwegian coastline, with an average of more than 1000 kg Pr Km coastline.

The picture above was taken just next to the Arctic Circle, where more than 80% of our findings originate from commercial fishing.

To empower our fight against litter in arctic waters, we are expanding our fleet and broadening our services, not only to be able to clean more in the most northern areas in the most sustainable and environment-friendly way but also to contribute more to science and research, and to help people living and working in arctic areas to handle their waste before it ends up in the ocean.

The expedition vessel Qilak will be operating for In The Same Boat from spring 2024, serving as the home for volunteer beach cleaners and other guests doing research in arctic waters. Traveling by sail is the most sustainable way, by far, with the least possible impact, to clean beaches in Arctic areas.

Qilak can accommodate up to 17 people and stay offshore for months at a time, carrying the necessary equipment for beach cleaning and research.

Lack of waste management in remote areas

In remote areas with no roads and ferry connections, people and companies are still burning and dumping plastic waste in nature. They obviously know it’s wrong, but they do it in despair, as no renovation services are available in these areas.

The picture above was taken close to a farm on an island close to the Arctic Circle. There’s a ferry connection, but it goes only once a day, and on the land side, there are hours to go to the closest waste management facility, and it’s not even possible to go there and get back the same day. The local habitants chose to burn their waste and leave the ashes for the tide.

Sustainable waste logistics

To do efficient logistics and waste management from remote locations where there are no roads or regular ferry connections, we are designing and planning to build a specialized catamaran that can serve these areas with low/no emission, onboard processing, and tools to pick up almost anything from anywhere.

The vessel will collect waste from the marine industries as well as from the small remote societies along the coastline. It will not only collect waste that otherwise would have ended in illegal landfills or in the ocean, but it will do it with lower emissions and at a lower cost than the traditional way of transporting waste. This is an important part of reducing plastics going into the ocean in the future, and it is an important contribution to making waste management in remote areas sustainable from a financial perspective.

If we can make this work in Norway, it might be a solution to plastic pollution from local sources also in other parts of the world. Why not use the waterways to save the ocean from pollution?