Our blog has moved!

We are very excited to announce that we have launched a new website! With this change we have incorporated our blog into the site and we will no longer be posting here.

Please visit our new website (the URL is the same): http://sailorsforthesea.org

To visit the blog – where you can view all of our old post, and many new ones visit: http://sailorsforthesea.org/blog

Thank you for following our blog and we hope you enjoy the new website!

The crew at Sailors for the Sea

If you would like to stay connected through social media we are active on:

Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

Trashy Beaches, and not the good kind.

Last week, Sailors for the Sea and 5GYRES met in Hull Cove in Jamestown, RI to train sailing instructors on how to teach with Rainy Day Kits – our environmental lesson plans focused on marine ecology that can be taught to students in sailing programs and other low resource environments. This blog features a new lesson plan, created by 5GYRES, to be available for download on our website later this month!

Program Director Annie Brett teaches sailing instructors about our newest Rainy Day Kit.

Program Director Annie Brett teaches sailing instructors about our newest Rainy Day Kit.

Ever heard of Alexander Parkes? In 1856, he patented the first man-made plastic and as a species we have never looked back. For more than 150 years of using plastic as a panacea for everything from vinyl siding for homes to exfoliates in face wash. Quite a bit of it has ended up in one of five locations: North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Indian ocean gyres. And these plastics are dangerous for the ocean environment. Not only is the trouble with sea life eating them or getting tangled, but plastics also accumulates chemical pollutants that can poison organisms.

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An instructor sifting through sand looking for mircoplastic.

And the gyres are not the only ocean places where plastics accumulate. They can also be found locally. 5GYRES has designed an excellent new rainy day kit that will allow students to identify and quantify different wastes (including those other than plastic) found on your beach by walking and diving along transects, and sifting through sand. The goal is to collect as much debris as possible, while sorting and counting it according to size and type. This kit provides an excellent thinking point for how our use of plastic, and other disposable materials, can affect a larger environment and  cleans your local beach at the same time!

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Debris removed from Hull Cove in Jamestown, RI

5GYRES is committed to stopping the accumulation of plastic pollution in the five subtropical ocean gyres through research and communication.

Personal Grooming Scrubs may be Harmful to Fish in the Great Lakes and Beyond

Image created by: The National Aquarium

Image created by: The National Aquarium

Today, I felt compelled to do a little detective work on my face wash. You might ask why would I do such a thing, and what does this have to do with Ocean Conservation?

Well the other day, Scientific American posted an article discussing the results of a startling survey conducted by the State University of New York at Fredonia. The Survey measured the plastic pollution in three of the Great Lakes (Huron, Superior and Erie). One of the most prevalent plastics found in the Lakes were small plastic beads a millimeter in diameter, known as micro plastic. These plastics are found in many personal grooming products as abrasives, such as face cleansers or body scrubs.The problem here is that the micro beads are so small that they can’t be filtered out and end up in our water ways. According to chemist Lorena Rios of the University of Wisconsin–Superior 1,500 to 1.7 million plastic particles per square mile were found by her team in the great lakes.

Great Lake in Michigan

These particles have the potential to block digestion in fish species and starve them of nutrients. Fortunately, this has not been seen in fish within the great lakes as of yet. In addition these plastics can easily absorb chemicals that can potentially affect species DNA, causing deformities. Finally these micro beads can stay in the environment for over 50 years. Further studies are currently being conducted to keep an eye on the potential of the pollutant.

In an effect to protect our waters I encourage you to investigate the personal grooming products you currently use. Using all natural products is suggested. Below you will find a few products that do not contain Plastic Micro beads that can be found at a local pharmacy.

Scrubs:

Finally if you feel like this is not enough, feel free to support 5GYRES campaign by signing their petition- 

 “…I support the elimination of plastic polyethylene micro-beads in all personal care products and urge Procter & Gamble to take the environmentally responsible action of removing them from their products by no later than January 1st, 2015.”

See full Report at: Personal Grooming Products May Be Harming Great Lakes Marine Life

Summer Solstice

Today marks the longest day of the year – and to celebrate we joined up with Summer Sailstice to mark the longest sailing day of the year! This Saturday head out on anything the floats to join thousands of other boaters marking this wonderful occasion with their favorite pastime!

Learn more about Summer Sailstice – and their global initiative to get people enjoying their local waters! When you register, you can sign up to pledge your support to our ocean conservation program!

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Good News for our Oceans Today: North Sea Cod Stocks Recovering Rapidly

Good News for our Oceans Today: North Sea Cod Stocks Recovering Rapidly

Every day it seems as though we learn of a new species threatened with extinction, or a study discussing increased acidification in the oceans. But, today is different, we would like to celebrate the work being done to stabilize the population of Cod in the North Sea.  According to research done by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) , an organization listed under Sailors for the Sea’s Conservation Resources, the species is recovering and will be a candidate the MSC’s Sustainability certification much sooner than previous estimates.  To qualify for MSC’s certification you must meet certain stock size, fishery and species management plan standards. The Marine Stewardship Council attributed the cod’s rapid recovery to the establishment of strict catch limits and the public campaign for sustainable fish. This is a perfect opportunity to showcase how promoting and advocating for the protection and conservation of the ocean can pay off and produce tangible results.

North Sea cod stocks ‘on road to sustainability

As part of the Marine Stewardship Council’s goal to replenish the North Sea cod stocks they promoted the consumption of underutilized fish, specifically red gurnard.This species of fish is commonly caught by fishermen as bycatch, meaning it is caught by accident and is then discarded. So instead of wasting the fish its consumption was advocated for. Unfortunately little data had previously been collected on the stock sizes of red gurnard. Consequently, recent popularity has caused additional stress on the species population. The take home message here is that regardless of the species finding a balance in consumption is key, utilizing a variety of species would be ideal. To learn more check out Sailors for the Sea’s Rainy Day Kits including a Sustainable Seafood Matching Game.

Vist to NEAQ

Yesterday, Sailors for the Sea staff traveled to the New England Aquarium in Boston for their World Oceans Day celebration! Hundreds of families visited, learning the importance of ocean conservation through hands on activities.

Sailors for the Sea staff demonstrating Rainy Day Kits!

Sailors for the Sea staff demonstrating Rainy Day Kits!

Sailors for the Sea staff taught kids and parents about sustainable seafood using two of our Rainy Day Kits, The Deadliest Catch & Sustainable Seafood Matching Game.

The Deadliest Catch is was a big hit amongst the crowd, thanks to the usage of candy to demonstrate overfishing. Kids are given an “ocean” (bowl) full of “fish” (swedish fish & skittles) and a fishing pole (a straw). In the first round, kids use the straw to suck up the candy and set it next to the bowl. After the first round students are allowed to eat their catch – and are asked… What do the fish left in the ocean do? The most common answer was swim away – but some guessed correctly that they would repopulate!

A young visitor tries to catch fish with his straw.

A young visitor tries to catch fish with his straw.

The joy on a kids face who did not catch very many fish was amazing, and those who had emptied their bowl were sadly reminded that 0 x 0 = 0. A second round allows kids to use a net (spoon) to more easily capture fish. Some discovered the concept that they could have a never ending candy bowl if they did not remove all the fish in the sea!

 

 

Once the concept of sustainable seafood is learned, kids played a version of memory with Sustainable Seafood Matching Game to learn which kind of fish they can are caught in a sustainable manner.

To download these lesson plans, click here. The plans are intended to be 30-60 minute activities and are ideal for learning about marine science and ocean health issues when you don’t have laboratory supplies. Almost every item you need can be printed out or bought at your local pharmacy!

Kids contemplating candy... parents thinking about if they eat sustainable seafood!

Kids contemplating candy… parents thinking about if they eat sustainable seafood!

New European Affiliate

Sailors for the Sea Portugal!

Sailors for the Sea Portugal officially signed in to action. On the left David Rockefeller, Jr. from Sailors for the Sea USA, middle Bernardo Corrêa de Barros from Sailors for the Sea Portugal and on the right Dan Pingaro from Sailors for the Sea USA.

Sailors for the Sea Portugal officially signed in to action. On the left David Rockefeller, Jr. from Sailors for the Sea USA, in the middle Bernardo Corrêa de Barros from Sailors for the Sea Portugal, and on the right Dan Pingaro from Sailors for the Sea USA.

While in Portugal this week, our Chief Executive Officer Daniel Pingaro and Chairman, David Rockefeller, Jr. met with a group of sailors dedicated to the environment to form a new Sailors for the Sea affiliate! Our first European affiliate will be based in the beautiful sailing town of Cascais. Sailors for the Sea is very excited for this expansion across the Atlantic and we look forward to working with our affiliate to grow our ocean conservation programs in Portugal.

Sailors for the Sea in Portugal!

This week our Chief Executive Officer Daniel Pingaro and Chairman, David Rockefeller, Jr. are in Cascais, Portugal for The Draeger Foundation‘s 3rd conference on ‘Sustainable Oceans: Reconciling Economic Use and Protection.’ The focus of the 2013 conference is on good governance for sustainable marine development.

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco provided opening remarks for the conference. Creating a general discussion around the idea that while discussion and theories around ocean conservation are important, there is now an acknowledgement that a roadmap is needed – and that we as a society, must move forward to support a sustainable ocean interaction. Otherwise we are on the brink of irrepairable harm to the ocean.
Opening day at the Draeger Foundation Sustainable Oceans Conference

Opening day at the Draeger Foundation Sustainable Oceans Conference

Additionally, Eric C. Schwaab, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management at NOAA presented during the “Managing the Worlds’s Oceans” section. He noted the admirable cooperation between the United States and France through The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Agoa Marine Mammal Sanctuary in the Caribbean’s French Antilles.  These “sister sanctuaries” work together to protect the humpback whales that migrate annually between the two sanctuaries.

Sailors for the Sea’s Dan Pingaro is a member of the Stellwagen Bank Advisory Council,  and Sailors for the Sea is working with the sister sanctuaries program to develop a plan that will allow sailors to be “citizen scientist.” Cruising sailors would help by photographing whales, noting their location and sending the information back to Stellwagen Bank. This would help scientist track the migratory patterns from New England to the Caribbean!

Stay tuned for more updates from Portugal!

How does your state rank?

The Marine Conservation Institute and Mission Blue just released a ranking of costal states based on the amount of Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) that have designated no take zones. The study entitled Sea States: How Well Does Your State Protect Your Coastal Waters? looks at the percentage of “no take” waters per state.

Marine Protected areas have a large variety in the level of protection they offer to the waters that they cover with some allowing recreational fishing and others allow commercial fishing. Dr. Lance Morgan, President of the Marine Conservation Institute noted: “No-take marine protected areas are the gold-standard for healthy oceans, but far too few states and territories are designating them.”

In fact, 15 out of the 23 coastal states do not have a designated no take zone and our home state of Rhode Island – The Ocean State – does not have a no take zone! Below is a list of states ranked by percentage – to learn more visit: http://seastates.us

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Stay tuned for next months Ocean Watch Essay focused on MPA’s and written by Marine Conservation Institute!

Safe & Green – Memorial Day Weekend!

The crew here at Sailors for the Sea is very excited for Memorial Day Weekend – and like many people in the country excited to be near the water and aboard a boat! This weekend our staff will be attending two exciting Clean Regattas, The Atlantic Cup and Figawi Race Weekend! At both events race organizers have used strong preparation to make their event follow our Clean Regatta Best Practices.

Many of these Best Practices can be applied to anyone’s weekend adventures – so here are a few tips for boating clean this weekend!

 Pump_out-04Overboard Discharges: Don’t discharge untreated sewage or blackwater in harbor (it’s gross) and very bad for your harbor – Find a list of pumpout stations here.

 

Non_toxic_cleaning-04Green Cleaning Products: More often than not, when you clean your boat the suds get washed off into the water. Learn more about Green Cleaning Products that can be bought or made for your boat.

 

water_bottle-04Reusable Water Bottles: Eliminate the use of single-use, disposable water bottles in your home and on your boat by switching to reusable water bottles. It make’s clean up at the end of the day so much easier!

For more ideas read our Clean Boating Resources.  

We wish everyone a safe & green Memorial Day Weekend!