Global Partnership for Oceans

Sailors for the Sea has joined an alliance of nonprofits, governments and private sector interests under the umbrella of the World Bank Global Partnership for Oceans. Together, Sailors for the Sea will join in a collaborative effort to address the threats to a clean and healthy ocean. As a group, we will be addressing protection and restoration issues, managing risks to ocean health, sharing knowledge and striving for solutions. Learn more by visiting the Global Partnership for Oceans.

Watch the video below to learn more about the mission of the Global Partnership for Oceans.


Clean Regattas at the International Rolex Regatta

Congratulations to the 39th annual International Rolex Regatta hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club for being certified as a Clean Regatta.

2012 marks the 39th year of the International Rolex Regatta with exciting racing and opportunities for every sailor, with beach cats, IC24’s all the way up to the IRC class.

The St. Thomas Yacht Club faces a unique set of challenges when planning to run a Clean Regatta. Much like the island of St. Maarten, St. Thomas does not have recycling and the tap water is not drinkable. Regatta organizers at the St. Thomas Yacht Club focused on reduction of waste and reusing items to reduce the events environmental impact.

Check out our slideshow to see the best practices in action. 

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Best practices included:

  • A green team cleaning the beach everyday.
  • Trashcans were placed all over the beach and club to reduce party debris from blowing into the ocean.
  • Lunch waste and was reduced from previous years and better materials such as tinfoil were used instead of saran wrap.
  • Lunch bags are reused and made from recycled material, lunches were distributed in reused cardboard boxes.
  • Almost every night dinner was served on recyceld paper plates rather than plastic.
  • St. Thomas Yacht Club recycles all of their cooking oil for use as bio-diesel.
  • They also use biodegradable detergents.
  • Organizers reduced waste created from cases of water by purchasing bottles in crates that are reusable, and taken back to the distributor. This is instead of purchasing a normal case of water that is wrapped in plastic with a cardboard bottom, all items that would end up in the land fill.
  • The USVI’s has its first pump out boat; race boats with heads on board were encouraged to use this service.  Congrats to the boat Bermuda High for being the first boat to use the pump out station at the Rolex Regatta!

In such a beautiful location it is truly inspiring to see sailors changing their habits to help protect the ocean. We would like to thank the race organizers for their hard work and creative thinking to find ways that they could reduce the regattas impact on the environment.

A special thanks to the U.S. Virgin Islands department of tourism for hosting Sailors for the Sea.

International Rolex Regatta

We have had two days of racing at the International Rolex Regatta hosted by the St. Thomas Yacht Club. There has been great weather, wind and racing. Check out the pictures in our slide show and stay tuned for a full report on their work with the Clean Regattas program.

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Click here for a full regatta report, race results, and more!

For frequent updates follow the regatta on twitter @IRRstyc and

Summer Sailing Programs

The Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club has taken some of the Clean Regattas best practices to their junior sailing summer program.

“The Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club and its members consider their role as ocean stewards when planning and participating in yacht club events. Therefore, it is requested that participants in the summer sailing program bring a reusable water bottle and a trash-free lunch with them, every day. Examples of a trash-free lunch can be found at: Thank you for joining us in protecting our local waters.”

We are excited to see this extension of the Clean Regattas best practices with easy and simple solutions. For an easy way to provide drinking water to youth sailors, check out our recent blog post on Zip 2 Water.

Mission of Mermaids

Mission Mermaids LogoMission of Mermaids – A love letter to the ocean – debuted this past week at the Environmental Film Fest and the Hong Kong – San Francisco Ocean Film Festival. This short film celebrates director Susan Rockefeller’s relationship with the ocean. It’s both a poetic ode to the seas and a plea for their protection.

Mission of Mermaids evokes the archetype of the mermaid, a mythical creature that embodies the ocean’s enduring mystery. The film honors the women and men who live from and for the seas—artists, activists, performers, divers, fishermen, and sailors. And all of us who have dreamed on beaches, reveled in the ocean’s waters, or nourished ourselves in her depths.

Mermaid in the SunTake action to protect the oceans and all that dwells within them before it’s too late!

Follow Mission of Mermaids on their Facebook and Twitter pages for more information about the film.

Clean Regattas program enters its 7th season

2 weeks into March the 7th year of Clean Regattas is well underway with 60 regattas committed to Clean Regattas certification and four programs running their entire season as Clean Regattas. See the full list here.Flags

“By making the Clean Regattas Pledge, regattas, yacht clubs, and sailing programs commit to protecting the ocean and local waters, and working to achieve higher environmental standards,” said Annie Brett, program lead, Sailors for the Sea. “Participants vow to fulfill, and encourage others to fulfill, the goals and requirements of the program. The program’s growth mirrors the interest among sailors to protect waters for the use and enjoyment of this and future generations.”

In the seven years since its inception, the Clean Regattas program has grown from five to over 150 events in 2011. Clean Regattas program participants include over 40 repeat events and some of the world’s most well-known regattas – 32nd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, America’s Cup World Series, Newport Bermuda Race, The Atlantic Cup, and Chicago Match Race Center – pledging their support to protect ocean health and improving their environmental practices.

Classic SchoonerTo participate in the Clean Regattas program, regatta organizers commit to carrying out at least one Best Practice. With three levels of certification, participants select their level of engagement, and work to fulfill the related certification requirements, five for Bronze, 10 for Silver, 15 for Gold. Register your event today.

Share with us: What is the best practice you have seen at a regatta to reduce it’s impact on the environment?

River Herring

River herring migrating upstream.

River herring migrating upstream. Photo credit: Tim & Doug Watts

This month’s Ocean Watch Essay on, River Herring and their role in coastal and marine ecosystems, comes from the Pew Environment Group. Special thanks to the Pew Charitable Trust for the contribution to Sailors for the Sea’s Ocean Watch Essays.



River Herring getting lifted over a dam.

River herring getting a lift over a dam. Photo credit: Bill McWha

This spring, as New England sailors leave their harbors for the open ocean, the last remaining schools of river herring will start a journey of their own as they migrate from open-water feeding grounds to their native rivers.

Alewife and blueback herring, collectively known as river herring, were once found in nearly every coastal river in the Northeast. Now, federal fisheries managers are evaluating these fish for a potential listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Read the full essay >>

Industrial fishing boat

Industrial trawling at the mouth of Narragansett Bay this January. Photo Credit: Mike Laptew

What can you do?

  • Write a letter to the council and let members know you support better oversight of industrial fishing and increased protection of the ocean and its resources.
  • Stay in touch with the efforts to protect forage fish at
  • Support Ocean Conservation by donating to Sailors for the Sea.
  • Attend a public hearing being held by The New England Fishery Management Council during March, click here to find dates.
  • Eat Sustainable Seafood, whether at a restaurant or at the supermarket, buying sustainably sourced seafood make an impact. Learn what types of fish are sustainable from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and connect to fishermen near you through Local Catch.

Zip 2 Water

Zip 2 Water Station

Zip 2 Water Station

With the move towards using reusable water bottles at sailing events, many regatta organizers are looking for better ways to supply water. There are many creative ways to do this, and many systems to fit with every regattas needs and budget.

One innovative design is the Zip 2 Water station, a company based in Washington state. This family team of sailors have created an amazing product that has been used by sailing events, and other sporting  events to supply filtered water to large groups.

These amazing filtration stations:

  • Remove chlorine taste and odor
  • Refill water bottles in just seconds
  • Can have a drinking fountain feature as well
  • Cooling technology keeps water cool even under a hot sun
  • Easy to secure to a fence, or other fixture – and leave locked up for the season
  • Serves up to 500 people per hour
  • No electrical power required
  • A 2 stage filtration to remove particulates as well as chlorine
  • Made in USA
Zip 2 water station being used at ICSA College Nationals

A Zip 2 water station was used at the 2011 ICSA College Nationals with great success.

This water refilling system is ideal for youth summer programs, collegiate sailing and other regattas where people rotate on shore, and at your regatta party rather than handing out bottles of water. If you are sailing at the Columbia Gorge Racing Association, the Seattle Yacht Club, Old Dominion University, Stanford University, or the US Coast Guard Academy, look for their Zip 2 Water stations.

Also Zip 2 Water was recently nominated for the 2012 “Innovator” award from the Washington State Recycling Association! If you have more questions, check out or email Pam Gallaher at

Speaking at the World Ocean Summit

From Dan Pingaro, Sailors for the Sea, CEO
The Economist World Ocean Summit in Singapore was an exciting event with excellent discussions about ocean health, corporate responsibility and what this means for business and other key stakeholders. More than 300 keystone stakeholders participated in the event allowing for a rich, dynamic and interactive dialogue among the participants.
I was able to present on behalf of Sailors for the Sea, as the only representatives for the recreational boating community at the event.  During my presentation, I shared the history of Sailors for the Sea and our mission to galvanize the boating community around ocean health issues. I also shared information about two of our programs, Clean Regattas and Rainy Day Kits.
Another program of ours, that is in the works was notable to the theme of this summit. Certified Sea Friendly is a program that will focus on reducing the environmental footprint of the recreational boating industry. Sailors for the Sea will be the catalyst to connect designers, manufacturers, maintenance industries and address end of life issues for boats. Certified Sea Friendly links directly to corporate social responsibility and sustainability.
Sailors for the Sea plans to collaborate with corporations who can be responsible ocean stewards. For too long, the oceans have borne the brunt of externalized costs of doing business. Increasingly these impacts of unhealthy oceans will be felt in supply chains, facilities, and resource availability. Corporations are increasingly held to account for those externalized costs of business. Companies should be rewarded for reducing their impact on the environment and, in particular, on the ocean.
One avenue to formalize this accountability, provide incentive and begin integrating reporting is the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). SASB will develop and maintain industry-based sustainability standards to guide US corporations and their investors on material Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues that should be disclosed, at a minimum, in the Form 10-K. The creation of the first industry based sustainability standards in the US.
Companies impact the ocean. The ocean environment impacts companies.  As mentioned, SASB will require disclosure of material issues by industry, including positive and negative impacts on oceans and coastal ecosystems. This is an investor and environmental issue, because oceans and corporations affect many industries. Universal owners are invested in multiple sectors – if one industry is causing external harm, even if it does not affect the immediate balance sheet, it affects other holdings in the portfolio. So institutional investors will start to drive demand for disclosure and corporate responsibility once they understand the systemic impacts on their portfolio.

While Sailors for the Sea is focused on direct ocean conservation programming, through our Certified Sea Friendly program we will begin to engage the Maritime Industry. Positive, collaborative engagement between NGOs – whether it be Sailors for the Sea or Sustainability Accounting Standards Board – and Industry will be critical to the health of The Ocean, The Environment and The Economy.

Reporting from St. Maarten

It’s been a fantastic weekend of racing here at the 32nd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta- blue skies, steady winds, and only a couple minor crashes in the bareboat fleet. There are over 200 boats participating in the racing this year, and it’s been great to see many familiar Clean Regattas faces, enjoying the warm weather racing and gearing up for another season of Northern racing. But the best part of Heineken for us at Sailors for the Sea has been watching the regatta step up their Clean Regattas certification to the Silver level after achieving Bronze for the past three years.

Electronic results screens

St. Maarten Heineken faces a unique set of obstacles in trying to reduce the environmental footprint of their event. Dutch St. Maarten lacks pumpout stations, recycling facilities and any sort of composting options, things we often take for granted at the regatta sites we visit. But, over the years, organizers here have come up with a unique set of solutions to these problems. Instead of relying on municipal recycling, organizers have significantly reduced the amount of waste sent to landfill by using biodegradable products, reusing bow numbers and signage from year to year, reducing plastic waste by eliminating unnecessary items such as drinking stirrers and straws, and using paperless electronic systems for registration and results.

Reusing bow numbers

And despite the lack of municipal recycling, organizers have been working with private entrepreneurs to pilot recycling of the glass Heineken bottles that are ubiquitous at this event.  Additionally, organizers have gone above and beyond in working closely with local Marine Protected Areas, ensuring that boaters are educated and aware so these areas stay pristine for years to come.

All in all, it’s been inspiring to see the efforts being undertaken here in St. Maarten. Sometimes a little creative thinking is necessary to find solutions that protect our oceans, but here in St. Maarten, where the waters are crystal clear and the beaches are the main draw, it’s obvious that those efforts are well worthwhile, be it aesthetically, socially, or economically.