Conserving oceans: Investment not philanthropy


The superyacht industry’s role in conserving and protecting the oceans should be viewed as an investment in the future and not an act of philanthropy, Robert van Tol, co-founder, Water Revolution Foundation told Superyacht Investor.

He points out the industry is intrinsically connected to the oceans and its future relies on their health. “Sustainability is at the forefront of concerns facing the industry at present and to operate in a sustainable way, ocean conservation is a logical and necessary activity,” said van Tol.

Last week the Water Revolution Foundation launched a crowdfunding campaign in conjunction with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Task Force on Marine Mammal Protected Areas. The campaign gives the industry the chance to raise funds for the Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMA) programme, which identifies the most important marine habitats and prioritises them for conservation.

The Water Revolution Foundation hopes its support of the IMMA programme will demonstrate to the rest of the sector how investment in marine conservation is good business practice.

“For yachting the oceans are the destinations, not the infrastructure, like they are for other shipping sectors. Therefore, ocean conservation is no philanthropy, it is investing, taking care of a vital stakeholder of yachting. We can step up and become real stewards of the oceans we love and want to continue exploring and enjoying,” said van Tol.

Y.CO is another industry player actively investing in ocean conversation. Earlier this month the firm announced a wide-ranging sustainability initiative which includes ocean conservation projects in the East Pacific.

Y.CO co-founder co-founder and CEO, Charlie Birkett told SYI: “The crisis facing the oceans, thanks to factors such as plastic pollution, overfishing and climate change, is now well known. It goes without saying that ocean conservation is undoubtedly the hottest topic in our industry at the moment.”

What can the industry do? The sector needs to get educated about the problem and the solutions, says van Tol. “Take the collaborative approach, together we can achieve much more than fragmented initiatives.

“Everyone plays a vital role. We should not isolate the actions of the yachting community, but in fact align ourselves and contribute to existing and the most effective projects to accelerate the conservation of our beloved oceans. It is not about supporting one thing, it is about supporting the most effective projects and working with the scientific community.”

The industry should follow the guidance of leading scientists, not just support popular projects that focus on symptoms instead of the core issue, said van Tol. “Adapt to sustainable ocean use practises, be aware where you are and what is below the surface that can be impacted by your presence or behaviour. Demand smarter solutions from your suppliers.”

Birkett believes the yachting community is arguably one of best-equipped industries to be able to create real change when it comes to the future of the oceans. “We are incredibly fortunate to work with some of the most influential people in the world, some of whom are involved in some very high level scientific and humanitarian projects.”

And with that the yachts themselves can be used as a force for good, said Birkett. “Whether it is to help research plastic pollution in our seas, respond to environmental disasters, helping remote communities install better infrastructure or simply bring crew and coastal communities together in inspiring, purposeful circumstances.”

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