If you are a part of the ASA sailor network, you probably already know about Sailors for the Sea. If you are new here, it’s my honor to introduce you to the single best resource for ocean-friendly sailing there is.
No sailor’s education is complete without an understanding of our impact on the oceans. On land, we consider our effect on the ocean in the abstract. But when we’re sailing, the ocean is directly impacted by the choices we make.
Sailors for the Sea provides important ocean conservation education to sailors and young people all over the world. They set up the first and only sustainability certification for regattas that has provided tools to over 2,000 regattas and a half-million sailors. They distribute ocean education lesson plans for kids, and provide tools for boaters to properly use and care for their vessels with respect for the environment with their Green Boating Guide.
I’ll admit that I’m a bit obsessed with this guide. I read through it and thought, Wow, they thought of everything. It’s so visual, fact-checked, and simply stated. Every boat should have a copy. I caught up with Sailors for the Sea to learn more about the Green Boating Guide and what the crew is up to.
Beyond sailing, the American Sailing Association is most committed to issues revolving around protecting the oceans and waterways that we so passionately care about. To that end, ASA keeps a close eye on and in some cases partners with organizations that share that same concern. One of those is Sailors for the Sea (sailorsforthesea.org) whose proclaimed mission statement is: “Engaging, educating, inspiring, and activating the boating community to protect the waters we all love to recreate on.”
Written By: Tyson Bottenus, Sustainability Director, Sailors for the Sea
How you clean your boat makes an impact on the marine environment. So what should you look for in a boat soap? Are all boat soaps made equally? When they come with the label “nontoxic,” what does that really mean?
We asked boat cleaning experts how they clean their boats and their advice might surprise you. Overall, each person has his own opinion how to best clean a boat, but when it comes to accomplishing the job without creating a Superfund site , here are a few universal truths.
When it comes to loving the ocean, it’s all about chemistry.
This Valentine’s Day, Sailors for the Sea — a forward-thinking non-profit that inspires boaters to protect the ocean — is asking millions of U.S. boaters to show the ocean some love!
When you take the NT3 Pledge — No Trash. No Trail. No Trace. — whether you live on a boat, along the coast, or in a landlocked state – your everyday choice to reduce your carbon footprint will benefit the ocean.
Guest post from Sailors for the Sea.
By:Hilary Wiech, Communications Manager and Annie Brett, Program Director
Renewable energy is a hot and sometimes controversial topic on land, but within the sailing world wind generators can sometimes be seen as old news.
It may seem silly to talk about renewable energy in the sailing world – aren’t sailboats powered by the wind after all? But look a little more closely, and for each sailboat on the water, there are a slew of energy consuming generators, outboards and batteries making sure we can get from point A to B. With climate change an increasingly pressing concern for the oceans and the environment, reducing our use of fossil fuels is critical. That being said, some of the best arguments for alternative energy sources are purely practical.
The cruising community, for instance, has long embraced renewable energy as a way to reduce costs and help make long passages possible on small amounts of diesel fuel. Solar panels and wind generators are almost ubiquitous on live-aboards, allowing cruisers to maintain battery banks while far away from traditional energy sources. Pictured at left is ASA instructor Yoh Aoki’s Zen 24 yacht, which makes us of a variety of renewable power sources.
Here at Sailors for the Sea we have noticed a big increase in the use of renewable energy with racing sailors as well. More efficient and cost-effective technologies mean that many of the same benefits the cruising community has long understood are now workable for racers. Whether switching a race committee boat to biodiesel or sailing around the world without a drop of diesel, race organizers are looking towards alternative energy sources. The America’s Cup, The Atlantic Cup, and the Vendee Globe are three regattas that are each taking a different approach to reducing their environmental footprint with the use of alternative energy.
America’s Cup – Alternative Energy supporting a large regatta venue
Race organizers at the America’s Cup have taken a strong stance on sustainability with a commitment to running every event in accordance to our Clean Regattas certification criteria and helping us create a stringent Platinum Level certification. The on-shore footprint of the America’s Cup is very large, with multiple venues scattered throughout the city of San Francisco and an anticipated hundreds of thousands of visitors during the three months of racing. Race organizers have committed to holding a carbon neutral event, and to achieve this they will utilize renewable energy in different ways:
Solar Panels: Past America’s Cup World Series events have seen organizers turn to solar power for some of their energy needs. Security lights powered by solar panels will reduce electrical use for a light that needs to be very bright and on 12 hours a day. Solar panels will cover the top of the sound stage and will generate enough power to boom the announcer’s voices over the large crowds.
Biodiesel: When The America’s Cup is unable to use shore power, and the use of generators are necessary using biodiesel will help reduce their fossil fuel usage and emissions.
Atlantic Cup – Renewable technologies for short distance and inshore racing
The Atlantic Cup, a regatta currently being run for its third year, has always received Gold level Clean Regattas certification. Race organizers require that every team use a form of alternative energy and through their sponsors assist teams with making the switch.
Hydro-generators: Many boats in the Class 40 circuit use hydro-generators to charge their batteries. Much like an upside-down wind generator, they have become popular in recent years as their increasing efficiency and reduced drag means they barely affect a boat’s speed. (Watch video below)
Solar Panels: Many boats are equipped with solar panels to charge their batteries.
Bio-diesel: When the engines must be run (hopefully only to and from dock) race organizers supply biodiesel for each boat.
Vendee Globe – Around the world with no fossil fuel
The Vendee Globe is a grueling solo round the world race from west to east via the three major capes -Good Hope, Leeuwin, and the Horn. In years past, about half the fleet does not make it across the finish line. For many years, racers have relied on some form of renewable energy to make it all the way around the world, typically a combination of solar panels and diesel fuel used to keep their batteries charged. However, this year one sailor set out with the goal of completing the race without using a single drop of diesel. Javier Sanso onTeam ACCIONA created a 100 percent ecopowered boat built to compete with the best in class.
A combination of solar panels, wind generators, and hydro generators were used onboard to charge batteries.
An electrical engine, a first in the history of the race, was used in place of a standard diesel engine. Team ACCIONA has to ask for the race rules to be changed to allow for the electrical engine, opening possibilities for the future.
If Sanso had completed the race, he would have been the first to do so without using fossil fuels. Unfortunately his keel broke and the boat flipped with approximately ¼ of the race left. For more information on Javier Sanso’s eco-friendly campaign watch the video below and read The New York Times article “In Race Around World, Boat Relies on the Power of Wind, Water and Sun.”
This guest blog is by Jim Abernethy, renowned underwater photographer and pioneer in shark encounters without a cage. For decades he has interacted with the world’s most notorious sharks, most of which are labeled as “dangerous species”. He is best known as a crusader for their protection. His award winning marine life images are often featured in top photography magazines such as Wet pixel and Nature’s Best Photography. While running shark expeditions his business has hosted many of the worlds top nature filmmakers and magazines such as Imax, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife and the Discovery Channel. Abernethy lives in Palm Beach, Florida. You are invited to visit his website at www.scuba-adventures.com.
Sharks today are facing the threat of extinction. It is estimated that nearly 100 million sharks are needlessly harvested from the ocean each year. Scientists believe that if sharks become extinct we will essentially destroy the delicate balance that is necessary for the survival of thousands of marine species! Severe depletion of certain species is already revealing devastating effects in some areas of the world. Allowing the marine ecosystem to collapse is not an option for mankind. Considering the fact that at least one third of the oxygen we breathe, and a large percentage of the food we eat, come from the ocean, immediate change from present day practices must be mandated if we are to ensure a healthy future for all. We have the knowledge and means to implement prudent restrictions, but will we actually make the changes necessary to avoid an otherwise imminent environmental quagmire?
As a nature photographer, conservationist and owner of a live-aboard dive ecotourism business, I have lived at sea for the last decade; I spend the majority of my life underwater. Diving with large predatory sharks in their natural environment (without a cage) has allowed me to witness firsthand the true and gentle nature of these animals. What is also remarkably evident is the serious decline in their numbers. While my passion to observe and photograph sharks all over the world continues, it is undoubtedly becoming more challenging to find them. As a photographer and filmmaker, I strive to bring their beauty and magnificence to those who would otherwise not experience these awesome creatures up close; all in the hopes of inspiring more people to advocate for their survival. Most people only see sharks through the lens of the media that perpetuates the misconception that they are man-eating monsters. The truth is, we pose the greatest threat-not just to sharks, and marine life in general, but to our own existence on the planet. When we continue to exploit the ocean’s resources, instead of coming to a place of appreciation and ethical stewardship, we harm ourselves the most. Preservation of our biodiversity not only demonstrates vision, it protects the natural resources so essential to our own survival. Sharks are not dispensable.
There are roughly 500 known species of shark and they have graced this planet for nearly 415 million years. Yet today, sadly, only ten percent of the large predatory sharks remain worldwide-only three are protected by restrictions on international trade (the basking, whale and white sharks). Like mammals, most sharks mature late in life and only produce a few offspring; too often sharks are harvested before they have had a chance to reproduce. Present day fishery regulations, primarily designed for bony fishes, are not adequately protecting sharks. Species such as the great white, hammerheads, tigers, bulls, lemons, and oceanic whitetip sharks are likely to face extinction in the not too distant future unless a resolution for their preservation is demanded by the public and enforced by governments worldwide.
As mentioned in my new book, Sharks Up Close, the primary offenders to shark populations are the fisheries that provide catch for the Asian delicacy, shark fin soup. The shark fins are cut off, then the fish is thrown back and left to drown. Because this occurs at sea, few people are aware of this inhumane routine. Can you imagine the public outcry if anyone could remove the appendages of selected land creatures (such as dogs), only to leave them in the street to die? We protect many national treasures by designating them as parks, but sadly we do very little to protect pristine offshore regions. At the time of this writing, while the Gulf coast is suffering incomprehensible damage from the BP oil spill, less than .5 percent of the world’s oceans are under some sort of protected status. According to leading conservationists, at least twenty percent of the world’s underwater areas should be protected as a marine reserve-the Gulf coast is a prime example of a location that needed those safeguards in place, for environmental and economic reasons. Palau is the first nation to designate an area as a “shark sanctuary”, and it is my hope other nations will follow this example.
Another major concern is the unsafe consumption of sharks because of the toxic levels of mercury found in them. “There is no known safe level of mercury”, according to World Health Organization. High levels of mercury may cause impairment of vision, speech, hearing, memory, and may also lead to sterility and sexual dysfunction. Outside of harvesting “poisoned” sharks for their meat, their existence is also threatened for the following reasons: fishing tournaments, commercial fishing by-catch, habitat destruction, and pollution. Some people believe shark cartilage supplements can cure diseases or heal ailments; it should be noted, there are no scientific studies to support this claim.
Many steps need to be taken to replenish shark and fish populations. As individuals, we can have a big impact on how business is done by being a conscientious consumer and only supporting sustainable fisheries. New regulations for fisheries-from the state level to worldwide-need to be put into place before it is too late. Better care of marine habitats and water quality is also key. Every effort makes a difference; from instituting marine reserves to private citizens signing petitions in protest of shark fishing tournaments. While “catch and release” is better than killing the fish, some species are unable to survive the trauma; especially true for larger species of shark. Global warming is of course also linked to the well-being of sharks.
It is our actions that have directly, and indirectly, caused them such harm; now it is us that must save them. John Sawhill said, “In the end, our society will be defined not by what we create, but what we refuse to destroy.” We are their only hope; future generations of sharks, and people, are depending on us.
We can all make a difference:
Join organizations like SfS that work to protect our oceans
Boycott shark products and businesses that produce them, such as Shark Fin Soup; Shark liver oil (squalene) based cosmetics and creams — Preparation H for example and many face creams, lip balms, etc. Endangered deep water sharks are targeted for their liver oil, and plant based alternatives are equally if not more effective; Nutritional supplements like shark cartilage and shark liver oil. Scientific evidence does not support the health claims of these products.
Shark Jaw Souvenirs
Reduce, Re-use, & Recycle
Support “shark-friendly” officials such as US Senator John Kerry – Sponsor of S. 850: Shark Conservation Act of 2009; US Delegate to Guam, Madeleine Bordallo – Sponsor of H.R. 81: Shark Conservation Act of 2009; and Senator Clayton Hee who authored and introduced the historic SB 2169 to Prohibit the Sale, Distribution and Possession of Shark Fins in the State of Hawaii. This bill has passed the House and Senate and is expected to be signed into law within the next month by Governor Linda Lingle.
Sign petitions that strive to PROTECT sharks from overfishing & pollution
Fundraise for non-profit organizations such as: Shark Savers – http://www.wildaid.org/sharks; WildAid – http://www.wildaid.org; Shark Foundation – http://www.shark.ch; Iemanya Oceanica (Adopt-A-Shark) – http://www.iemanya.org
If you fish, please practice “catch and release” and only fish for sustainable species
Learn what sharks are really like by going on a shark encounter with a reputable shark diving operation. Visit www.scuba-adventures.com to learn more about shark encounter expeditions.