Our Sustainability Initiatives

Quark Expeditions is profoundly committed to environmentally responsible tourism.

As a long-serving, active member of both the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Quark Expeditions adheres to stringent guidelines designed to ensure the Polar Regions remain pristine for generations to come.

Our Sustainability Initiatives

  • Our vessels burn Marine Gas Oil (MGO) a clean burning fuel with a low emission factor
  • Quark Expeditions conforms to all international regulations/policies governing the disposal of waste at sea
  • We serve only sustainable seafood
  • We use eco-friendly laundry chemicals & cabin amenities
  • We provide every passenger with a reusable water bottle
  • We use only recycled, acid-free paper onboard and limit paper use
  • We use recycled paper and acid-free inks in the manufacture of our brochures

Our Charitable Work

Quark Expeditions has been a proud ambassador of the Polar Regions since 1991. Thanks to our passengers, our onboard auctions have raised an average of $150,000 each season for charities dedicated to sustainability and conservation in the places we visit.

This year, Quark Expeditions will support the following charities:

Polar Bears International

Polar Bears International (PBI) is dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears and their sea-ice homes, through research, education, action programs and stewardship. PBI is considered the world’s foremost authority on polar bears.

The Challenge

Polar Bears are facing critical and immediate threats due to climate change, sea ice loss, global warming, and the impacts of industrialization. Since May 2008 and under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, polar bears have been considered a threatened species. Quark Expeditions and our passengers are passionate supporters of the Arctic region, and of PBI. As passengers often have the opportunity to glimpse polar bears on their expeditions, many become ardent and life-long PBI ambassadors after seeing bears first-hand in their natural environment. Every year, funds are raised on each Quark Expeditions voyage to benefit PBI efforts. Quark is also proud to participate in several PBI campaigns throughout the year, such as “Take The Next Step”, “Petition For Polar Bears”, “Earth Day - No Idling Challenge”, “Thermostat Challenge” and others.

Clean Up Svalbard

A partnership between tourists, tour operators and the Governor of Svalbard, Clean up Svalbard’s mission is to help preserve and “clean up” some of the stunning and unique wilderness of Svalbard.

The Challenge

The beauty of the spectacular and pristine Svalbard wilderness is being jeopardized by sea-transported garbage, an increasing problem in the Arctic. Most of this waste is transported to the area by ocean currents - northbound sea currents are bringing an increased amount of garbage from all over the world to this vulnerable region. Beaches are becoming littered with plastic, empty oil vats, fishnets and other waste. And while the sight of pollution on a beach in the Arctic is unfortunate, far worse is the threat this fast growing problem is causing wildlife. Birds and other animals sometimes eat the plastic, or get caught in fishnets and ropes, and risk suffering slow, painful deaths. This is having a significant negative impact on arctic wildlife, which is also seriously challenged by climate change.

With the help of the local population and concerned volunteers, the office of The Governor of Svalbard cleans up beaches every summer. Quark staff enthusiastically take part in this initiative and encourage our passengers who are interested in participating to also get involved. The task is simple—with the help of staff, volunteers help to collect plastic, glass and other debris from the beach. Along the way, passengers might pleasantly find driftwood and other interesting wood objects or remains from Svalbard’s history. Cultural remains are vulnerable treasures and are to be left undisturbed.

Tons of debris has been removed over the past decade, and with the help of Quark passengers, we look forward to continuing to preserve this magnificent arctic resource.

Underwater Bait Setter

The Underwater Bait Setter project creates and delivers a critical piece of fishing equipment - the BS30 - that prevents seabird by-catch by setting longline fishing hooks underwater, away from seabird reach. This underwater bait setter device is the first of its kind in the world, and may one day solve the seabird by-catch problem in longline fisheries.

The Challenge

Over 3.9 million albatross have died as a result of longline fishing since 2000, with another albatross death every two minutes. This is particularly alarming, as 17 of 22 albatross species are currently threatened with extinction. Long line fishing is the main threat to the population.

As a leading polar travel company, we take great pride in the environmental and conversation initiatives we support. Quark Expeditions is a proud sponsor of this project, which is managed by a team of engineers, business managers and scientists working together to reduce the risk to albatross and other seabirds, while also benefitting the fishing industry. Since becoming involved, Quark’s funding has helped pay for the research, development and testing of the BS30. We will now continue to support Underwater Bait Setter as it moves into its implementation phase, by gifting a new device to an industry-leading New Zealand tuna fishing operation.

The South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT)

South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) act as caretakers of the historic Grytviken church in South Georgia and are the leaders of the South Georgia Habitat Restoration Project (SGHRP). SGHT aims to preserve the history of fascinating South Georgia, and restore its environment. The SGHRP, specifically, aims to reverse the ecological destruction caused by invasive rodents, which were introduced by sealers and whalers to the area over the last two centuries.

The Challenge

South Georgia offers a unique environment that supports an abundance of wildlife, including penguin rookeries. However, the arrival of rats and other rodents on the sealing and whaling ships of the past have caused significant damage to the island’s native bird populations. The eggs and chicks of several ground-nesting birds are eaten by rats and other rodents. In addition, the retreat of the area’s glaciers—caused by climate change—is, in turn, allowing rats to gain a stronger foothold in the area. SGHT works tirelessly to raise project funds to rid the island of millions of invasive rats and mice, which threaten the survival of one of the world's most significant seabird sanctuaries. Quark passengers who travel to South Georgia see first-hand the awe of South Georgia’s native birds, and often become very keen to support the SGHRP. On each voyage, Quark conducts passenger auctions, and a portion of proceeds is directed to SGHT. All monies raised for SGHT directly benefit SGHRP restoration efforts.

Penguin Watch

Penguin Watch, a project run by Dr. Tom Hart, researches the threats to Antarctic penguins. The project conducts long-term monitoring of penguin populations, and genetic analysis of penguin feathers, to obtain a “complete picture” of how these populations are changing.

The Challenge

Penguin populations are altering. And, in some cases, declining. Penguin Watch aims to explore threats to the global penguin population, identify risk factors, inform policy, and educate the public on the impacts climate change, fisheries, and other factors have on penguin populations. Along with raising funds through onboard auctions, Quark passengers and others can get involved with Penguin Watch by helping to monitor and annotate penguin populations through Penguin Watch.

The website enables viewers to monitor and annotate penguins and other wildlife in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. This monitoring and annotation, in turn, helps Penguin Watch track colonies for research and analysis. Quark passengers on select Antarctic voyages have a unique opportunity to witness polar preservation research in action, as Dr. Tom Hart often joins Quark Expeditions on Antarctic voyages.

Contact a Quark Polar Travel Adviser for information on upcoming voyages with Dr. Tom Hart.

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