North Sailing Sustainability Policy

Sailing Towards a Sustainable Future

Since the beginning of our journey, sustainability has been our key destination. We are continuously working towards environmental and social responsibility for a positive impact on our surroundings.

Environmental Responsibility

Supporting ocean conservation

North Sailing is an active collaborator and supporter of the local NGO Ocean Missions, working closely with them on various ocean conservation projects. We support the ongoing efforts by the Skjálfandi Marine Protection Group to establish a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Skjálfandi Bay. We supported Ocean Missions in creating Iceland’s first Hope Spot with Mission Blue, and we contribute and participate in regular beach clean-up projects in North Iceland and Reykjavík.

Oceanmissions team onboard.

Supporting ocean research

University of Iceland’s Research Centre in Húsavík studies whales and marine life in good cooperation with North Sailing. Every year we offer researchers from all over the world the opportunity to use our boats as a platform for their field work in Húsavík. There is an ongoing photography project to identify whales in the Bay, and we also work closely with PhD students on their research, such as environmental DNA and thermoregulatory adaptations studies.

Carbon offset projects

We have committed to offsetting our Carbon emissions with Certified Carbon Units from the Yggdrasill Carbon (YGG) Project in Iceland.
Before joining Yggdrasill, we offset our carbon emissions with Kolviður, the Icelandic Carbon fund.

Humpback whale diving close to Opal

Converting boats to hybrid-electric

Schooner Opal was launched in 2015 with her uniquely designed electrical system, marking a worldwide milestone in eco-friendly travel. A year later, Andvari, our second silent electric boat, joined the fleet, and together with Opal, they are among the most environmentally friendly whale watching vessels in the world. Our lovely sailboat Hildur was upgraded in 2023 with a new propeller system, reducing the boat’s fuel consumption by 30%.

Playful humpback whale

Responsible whale watching

North Sailing is a certified Responsible Whale Watching Operator by the World Cetacean Alliance, following their Global Guidelines for Responsible Whale and Dolphin Watching. We are also a part of Icewhale following their Code of Conduct for responsible encounters with whales. North Sailing always emphasises a respectful approach to nature to minimize disturbance and impact on whales, birds and other wildlife.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

We are committed to reducing the use of new and raw materials.

From the beginning, we have focused on reusing material for the restoration of boats, buildings and interiors.
As an example, you can see the restaurant Gamli Baukur in the center of the Húsavík harbor, built from driftwood found along the nearby shoreline. Additionally, when building our offices, we repurposed an old boat that had previously served its days as a fishing vessel but now has a new life as an office interior. A part of the boat can already be seen when you enter our ticket office in Húsavík.

We are committed to disposing of waste in an environmentally sound manner.
All garbage is sorted and recycled according to the municipality’s standards.
We aim to eliminate single-use plastics and reduce the use of plastics in general.

Analysing microplastics © Ása Steinars

Educational Science Tours and Expeditions

North Sailing collaborates with Ocean Missions on various tours and expeditions where the onboard marine biologists share their knowledge and inspiration with passengers who can even participate in their research projects, such as microplastic surveys and zooplankton communities. Together with Ocean Missions, North Sailing has created a citizen science tour, allowing guests to participate in ocean research, micro-plastic analysis and gain a deeper insight into marine conservation.

Boat operation and maintenance

We prioritize using eco-friendly technologies and practices in our vessel operations, including low-emission engines and energy-efficient systems. We have defined the Eco-Zone of Skjálfandi Bay, where our captains maintain an economical cruising speed to reduce energy consumption. We have implemented systems to reduce the noise from our boats by installing quieter propellers and noise insulation systems. Our boats undergo regular inspections to meet requirements for operational license and safety.

Whale and animal-friendly operation

North Sailing is a proud whale watching operator that strongly opposes whale hunting activities. We continue to fight for this cause through initiatives such as education onboard our boats and by sharing our love for these amazing animals.

North Sailing supports the protection of endangered species, which reflects our commitment to preserving Earth’s biodiversity and ensuring a thriving future for all living beings.

All our whale watching boats approach birdlife with respect, keeping a distance and limiting speed around Puffin Island. We promote “Meet Us Don´t Eat Us”, campaign that aims to inform and educate tourists about a few key facts regarding whale meat consumption and gain their support to protect whales by ending commercial whaling.

Social Responsibility

Supporting the local community

The wooden church of Húsavík

Over the years, we have demonstrated our commitment to the community by supporting various local initiatives, including the sports team, local theatre, and town festivals. This ongoing dedication highlights our integral role as a supportive partner in fostering a vibrant and thriving community.

Stefán, from North Sailing, and Birgir, from Garðar, signing the partnership agreement

North Sailing has recently entered a 3-year partnership agreement with the Húsavík rescue squad, Garðar. The allocated funds are directed towards a new search and rescue boat that will enhance the efficiency of the rescue service and reduce response times in Skjálfandi Bay, increasing safety for all visitors.

Preserving cultural heritage

North Sailing takes pride in being a pioneer in preserving national heritage and supporting coastal and maritime culture. We achieve this through the renovation of both boats and buildings by the harbour and by offering traditional sailing tours.
We respect and celebrate the cultural heritage of Húsavík and Iceland, promoting cultural awareness and preservation through our operations and interactions with visitors.

Local Education

Beach clean-up in Reykjavik

North Sailing, in collaboration with the Húsavík Whale Museum, has a longstanding tradition of offering educational tours around Skjálfandi Bay to local children as part of school projects. This initiative aims to introduce future generations to the bay’s ecosystem and its surrounding environment, fostering environmental awareness from an early age through hands-on experiences.

Looking at pebbles © Ása Steinars

Children in Húsavík begin their educational journey into the world of whales already at the local kindergarten. As part of the program, they visit North Sailing, where they receive engaging lessons about whales and the marine environment. During the summer, these young learners are invited for a brief tour of Skjálfandi Bay, further enriching their understanding of the marine world.

Whale watching onboard Náttfari

Additionally, North Sailing partners with Ocean Missions to engage local teenagers in ocean education projects. Utilizing the electric Schooner Ópal as a platform, they conduct activities such as beach clean-ups and microplastic sampling in the bay, emphasizing environmental conservation and raising awareness about marine ecosystems among the youth.

Happy crew onboard.

Health and well-being of employers

We prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of our employees by providing a supportive work environment, offering training and development opportunities, and promoting work-life balance. We’re proud advocates of gender equality. With a majority of talented and educated female guides on our team, we ensure equal opportunities for all. To ensure the rights of employees, they select a confidant within the company that they can contact regarding rights and safety.

Local suppliers and service

We strive to always choose local suppliers and support local shops and services.
As an example, all passengers joining us for a whale watching tour will get a family-recipe cinnamon bun baked at the local bakery.

Education and Awareness

Join the mission © Ása Steinars

We provide educational materials and presentations to our guests, raising awareness about marine conservation and sustainable tourism practices. Our staff undergo training on environmental sustainability, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to promote responsible behaviour among guests. We aim to increase development, understanding, and awareness of appropriate practices when watching cetaceans.

The journey continues

Schooner Opal in Skjálfandi Bay

Our sailing towards sustainability is an ongoing journey. We have already reached many milestones along the way, but there are still places to visit and discover.

We plan to implement measurable goals regarding environmental issues in order to survey the company’s environmental performance and status.
We are currently in the process of getting Vakinn‘s environmental certificate to increase our commitment to sustainability.
We are already working on converting more boats to hybrid-electric systems to further reduce the footprint of our fleet.
We plan to open an Eco Centre in Húsavík where we will inspire and educate people about sustainability issues.
We will continue to educate and inspire employees, partners and customers to actively move towards more sustainable practices.