Aqua Expeditions: Responsible Travel Update
At Aqua Expeditions, we live and breathe “responsible travel” and actively encourage our guests to work with us to pursue our four-pronged strategy around this important objective:
- Practicing environmentally-sensitive operational practices on our cruises
- Supporting environmental conservation
- Supporting wildlife preservation
- Encouraging local community health and economic development
Sustainable Travel & Environmentally Sensitive Operational Policies and Practices
On all Aqua Expeditions cruises, we have adopted procedures to minimize environmental contamination and preserve the natural habitats and waterways through which we travel.
Our ships’ engines are the most fuel efficient, quiet, and virtually smoke free. We operates a specialized wet exhaust system to minimize the emission of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and reduce our carbon footprint. To minimize noise and vibration on board, our marine generators have been encapsulated. All these measures comply with the latest IMO and U.S. EPA standards.
Expedition skiffs come equipped with the latest ecologically sound outboard engines providing Three-Star Ultra-Low Emissions, as certified by the California Air Resource Board, and producing significantly lower emissions than engines meeting U.S. EPA standards.
Ecolab provides the most effective and efficient cleaning, food safety and infection control programs available worldwide. Our use of their cleaning and sanitation products increases safety, lowers consumption of water and energy, and reduces the chemicals and waste released into the environment.
All waste we generate on our cruiseships is treated onboard in fully contained storage tanks that comply fully with IMO and U.S. Coast Guard standards. The result is 100% clean, sterile water that can safely be discharged into the rivers with remaining waste materials (unsuitable for treatment) collected for delivery at disembarkation for recycling or responsible disposal.
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Peru, home to many species of flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. One of the biggest challenges for the Chief of Pacaya Samiria is to effectively protect these natural resources vital to all mankind.
Since 2009, Aqua Expeditions has maintained a close relationship with the Chief of the Reserve. Every month, we send updated, detailed observations about the flora and fauna we see on our journeys through the parts of Pacaya Samiria where we cruise. This timely, on-going feedback allows the Chief to take immediate action if we observe activities that go against the conservation objectives of the area, such as illegal logging as well as unscrupulous activities by other visitors to these protected areas.
Aqua Expedition’s participation is not only limited to providing information but also involves offering logistical support for maintaining vigilant control over the conservation of natural resources in Pacaya Samiria, as embodied in a document known as the Master Plan, which we are proud to have participated in creating.
Equally important as environmental conservation is our work supporting wildlife preservation. Aqua Expeditions works closely with the Chief and management team at the Reserve Headquarters to strengthen the protection and conservation of wildlife in this part of the world, with the goals of ensuring the continued existence of many species of animals that cannot be observed anywhere else on the planet. Our coordinated efforts also help many families living in Pacaya Samiria who rely on these natural resources as a source of income. Finally, the presence of our boats discourages illegal fishing and hunting and would-be poachers who know that Aqua Expeditions cooperates closely with Pacaya Samiria National Reserve to conserve locally-protected natural resources. We ask respectfully that our guests live according to the tenets of responsible travel and avoid encouraging the exploitation of any species of flora or fauna in all the communities we visit.
Aqua Expeditions is committed to responsible paiche fishing (Arapaima gigas), as it is recognized by the Chief of Pacaya Samiria that some fishing and marketing of these big fish is the most effective resource management for this eco-system. We have worked since 2012 in collaboration with the Chief on the Taricaya (Podocnemis unifilis) Project to protect this river turtle categorized as vulnerable in Peru. Under Aqua Expeditions care, turtle eggs are incubated for 70 days in semi-beach enclaves along the riverside until they hatch. We then release these beloved creatures into Pacaya Samiria at a special ceremony with our guests. Thus far, Aqua Expeditions has successfully released 670 Taricayas into the reserve.
Another much loved Amazon River species is the endangered Manatee (Trichechus inunguis). In conjunction with the Fundación Iquitos – Centro de Rescate Amazónico (CREA), Aqua Expeditions has been working since 2009 to support environmental education for Iquitos youth and visits for our guests to the rescue center. In addition, financial donations by the company support responsible conservation efforts for this noble, ancient species.
Local Community Health and Economic Development
Aqua Expeditions is also concerned about the health of people in the communities we visit. Our on board paramedic visits these communities regularly to educating the people in preventing disease through proper sanitary care, such as washing hands and drinking clean water. Aqua Expeditions also assists by informing members of these communities about the steps they must take to secure the free health insurance that the government of Peru provides for medical care in the major hospitals of Iquitos.
How Can You Help?
Many of our guests wish to directly assist the communities we visit. We discourage outright gifts of money as our experience confirms that in kind gifts can offer a more sustainable form of aid. For this reason, Aqua Expeditions created a series of simple but very useful kits that our Peru guests can give as gifts to the local people living in the communities along the Amazon. These kits offer items which are oriented towards education, health and subsistence activities such as fishing. These kits are available for purchase at a very nominal fee on board the Aqua Amazon and Aria Amazon.
Our health kit contains toothpaste, a toothbrush and a disinfectant soap. Since subsistence fishing is a common activity among the more than 22 communities we visit throughout the year, we created a fishing kit with a packet of salt, hooks, phosphorus and nylon fishing line. We also offer a school kit, which includes a pencil, eraser, sharpener and notebook.
Another kit that you may wish to donate includes a Mosquito net, a device proven highly effective in preventing mosquito bites for people living directly along the Amazon where many of the mosquitoes are transmitters of dangerous tropical diseases such as Malaria and Dengue. These nets are also effective at keeping away sand flies, which may carry the parasite causing Leishmaniasis. So far, our guests have purchased mosquito nets for more than 200 families living in communities along the Amazon River.