ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY As a specialist wildlife cruise operator our holidays reflect our commitment to a better environment. The overriding theme of our holidays is to promote an awareness of the (Hebridean) environment, its wildlife and the human impact upon it whilst ensuring our own impact is minimised as much as possible. We have worked hard to reduce our environmental impact and within the industry we lead by example.
Education and Raising Awareness
- The prime objectives of our business are (1) to show guests the unspoiled beauty of Scotland’s diverse West coast islands, (2) to show to visitors, undisturbed in their natural habitats; cetaceans, birds, mammals, flora and fauna and (3) to educate and raise awareness of environmental issues.
- Exploration of islands and coasts is undertaken by walking, no vehicles are used. Pathways are used where available and a guide/leader (or prior briefing) directs the group to specified targets or away from, perhaps, ground-nesting birds. E.g. We encourage responsible discovery and exploration of islands.
- Guests are shown the reality of Scotland’s natural beauty, not a rose-tinted version seen in a book. This encourages them to leave it as they found it, to learn more and help sustain what they see.
- We are frequently asked for opinions or information on “hot topics” such as fish farming and wind farms. We are always happy to discuss problems/solutions and listen to other viewpoints.
- Onboard guide (where available) and crew have local knowledge plus extensive educational literature on vessel. We can also recommend reading/viewing material before the holiday.
Our Commitment to the Environment
- Hjalmar Bjorge has been fitted with the very latest (2016) Baudouin 6M26.2 Engines, these are IMO Tier 2 rated, they are exceptionally clean and efficient.
- We have an onboard water maker (desalination plant) clean and filter (recycle) seawater for all drinking and cleaning purposes.
- Vessel departure times tie in with train timetable to encourage use of public transport and car-sharing is sometimes possible.
- Most whale-watching and bird-watching is undertaken aboard the boat so human beings rarely get too close to wildlife. See our Code of Conduct for further details.
- Dietary requirements are requested prior to each trip, the chef shops to minimise food waste and packaging where possible. Restricted storage space aboard means we are scrupulously careful in choosing our purchases thus there is minimal waste. When possible local or organic foodstuffs are purchased.
- Non animal-tested environmentally-friendly products such as BUAV approved detergents etc purchased when possible. All products at home/office comply. Recycled bin-bags are used on board.
- Home/office paper waste is shredded and burned to minimise the amount left for Council disposal. Office paper that is used on one side only is kept and reused for notes and filing etc.
- Steel and aluminium cans, glass, paper, cardboard and permissible plastics are stored during each cruise and recycled in local facilities.
- Remaining refuse is bagged and binned, stored and disposed of at designated facilities.
- Sanitary & bathroom waste bagged, binned and disposed of at designated facilities.
- If guests take picnics off the boat they are asked to return refuse to the vessel for proper disposal.
- No waste other than human waste and toilet paper is put down the toilets.
- Our Hebridean Wildlife Cruises brochure is printed on recycled paper. Other printed literature uses environmentally friendly paper (chlorine free and from a sustainable source).
- Small quantities of promotional materials are given to local Tourist Offices who ring and request more when necessary. They are not wasted.
- Low radiation LCD monitor for office computer.
- Low wattage light bulbs used aboard vessels.
- Two Generators aboard provide 240v power.
- Fridge & freezer aboard have tight seals to reduce heat loss.
- All entry/exit doors also have very tight seals (ex-submarine doors).
- Heating system uses gas oil from main engine system.
- The ships boiler provides heating and plentiful hot water, the latest in modern burner technology has been fitted (2015).
- Large flasks of hot water minimise need for constant re-boiling of kettles.
- Hull is insulated to reduce heat loss and minimise the need for internal heating.
- Vessel windows are made of thick, toughened marine glass.
- Used oil (from the vessel’s engines) is always disposed of in the appropriate location.
- Fresh water pumped by a battery powered pump which is heard working when water is used or if left running accidentally. Crew then check taps and switch off so no wastage.
- Fuels tanks on vessel are designed to withstand damage and spillage. Fuel for the outboard is kept in an appropriate storage container.
Additional Measures Implemented
- Hjalmar Bjorge refitted with five bladed propellers to ensure fuel efficiency and less noise disturbance to marine wildlife
- Fuel use is recorded in ship’s log so fuel economy can be monitored.
- Skipper’s briefing requests lights are switched off when not in use and for guests not to waste water in the shower.
- All pipe-work is plastic and designated “hygienic” for drinking water.
- Bed-linen is not generally changed within the length of the trip which cuts down on water wastage and disinfectant usage. Hand towels are changed every few days.
- Vessels are No Smoking throughout.
- Last vessel (safety) check at night ensures all but emergency lights are switched off.
- Hazardous materials are stored in appropriate containers out of the reach of the public.
If possible we visit small outlets on remote islands, such as Canna, which are reliant on tourism to make a living thus supporting other small local business. We buy our onboard books, guides and literature locally and guests, having viewed the literature onboard, frequently purchase the same items upon return to Oban.
DID YOU KNOW?
The first signs of habitation on Hirta (the largest island in the St Kilda archipelago and the only one you can really land on) are thought to have occurred c. 600 AD.