Sustainability in the Caribbean

Green VI Glass StudioThis week the BVI Spring Regatta gets underway and many sailors have descended upon Tortola for this exciting event. The regattas organizers have made a strong commitment to Clean Regattas over the past four years, and last year was the first Gold Level Clean Regatta outside the United States. (Look for a report on their 2013 Clean Regatta certification next week.)

Glass Souvenirs from Green VI

Glass Souvenirs

With such a strong focus on sustainability at the regatta, we wanted to learn more about green initiatives year round.  This months Ocean Watch Essay features Green VI, an organization dedicated to addressing waste management issues in the British Virgin Islands. We were surprised to learn that an estimated 3.8 million bottles were imported into Tortola in 1996. The Green VI’s glass studio takes some of that  trash and turns it into treasure! The beautiful, handmade glass blown objects are then sold as souvenirs,  and profits support other environmental initiatives in the BVI.

Learn more about their work by reading the full essay:  Waste Management Problems in the Caribbean: How Green VI targets these issues.


Action alert from Pew Environmental Initiatives

Large swaths of New England’s protected waters—a combined area the size of Connecticut— could be reopened for fishing. These protected areas are important to species recovery and have been proven to grow fish population within and outside the protected area.

According to Pew “These closed areas were put in place following widespread overfishing and the collapse of fish populations in the 1990s, and were intended to protect juvenile fish, spawning areas and seafloor habitat. They also provide benefits to other species, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, endangered humpback whales and harbor porpoises.”

Many feel that the species in this region have not fully recovered. Learn more about this issue and help keep these important waters protected by clicking here.

To learn more about overfishing read our past Ocean Watch Essay: Oceans Without Fish?

River Herring

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

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

As spring (slowly) descends on the New England Region, it is an exciting time of year – if you are a herring! This anadromous fish (a species that lives in the sea but must enter fresh water to spawn) plays an important role in coastal and marine ecosystems. They are forage fish: schooling fish that occupy the crucial midpoint of the ocean food web, consuming plankton before being eaten by other animals (generally the kind we like to eat such as cod, striped bass, tuna etc.)

For many years, herring have been disappearing from the East Coast because of dams, habitat degradation, and in-river overfishing, threats that have been aggressively addressed through ongoing efforts by states, by the federal government, and by stakeholders. In the past two decades, however, another threat has emerged: unintentional catch, or bycatch, of river herring by vessels fishing for other species in the ocean. Last spring we covered this important topic in an Ocean Watch Essay, which you still be read by clicking here. Below is an update on what you can do to help this important species, which is currently being examined as to whether or not it will be listed on the endangered species list.

A fairly long fish ladder used by river herring to "step up" around the dam. Photo by Herring Alliance.

A fairly long fish ladder used by river herring to “step up” around the dam. Photo by Herring Alliance.

What can you do?

If you know of more places to volunteer and count river herring, please list them in the comments below!

2013 Clean Regattas Season

Colorful spinnakers at the 2013 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Photo credit ©Bob Grieser/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

Colorful spinnakers at the 2013 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Photo credit ©Bob Grieser/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

The 2013 Clean Regattas season is off to a fantastic start with our first Clean Regatta in Japan kicking of the year! Next the fifth year of participation from the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta lead to their first gold level certification, and currently Bacardi Miami Sailing Week is aiming for bronze level certification for the first time! Clean Regattas produce less waste, reduce an events environmental impact, and raise awareness of ocean conservation. Register your regatta today! Below is a list of regattas currently registered for 2013!

Louis Vuitton Cup – San Francisco, CA, July 4 – August 30
Red Bull Youth America’s Cup – San Francisco, CA, September 1 – 4
America’s Cup Finals – San Francisco, CA, September 7 – 21

San Diego Yacht Club – San Diego, CA, Full 2013 Season
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta – St. Maarten, Feb. 28 – March 3
BVI Spring Regatta – Nanny Cay Marina, March 25 -31=
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week – Charleston, SC, April 18 – 21
Nantucket Race Week – Nantucket Community Sailing, August 10 – 18

MC Nationals – Clear Lake Yacht Club-MC Sailing Association, June 26 – 29
Vineyard Cup – Sail Martha’s Vineyard, July 12 – 14

BACARDI Miami Sailing Week – Miami, FL, March 3 – 9
Regata Internacional Bahia de Banderas – Vallarta Yacht Club, March 19 – 23
WesMex International Small Boat Regatta – Vallarta Yacht Club, April 18 – 21
Antigua Sailing Week – Antigua Yacht Club, April 27 – May 3
SJRYC Centennial Year Rhumbline Regatta – St. Joseph River Yacht Club, June 14 – 15CleanRegattas_Logo_Copyright2
Emerald Cup Regatta
 – Triton Yacht Club, June 28 – 30

Hayama Marine Yacht Club – Toyko, Japan, Feb. 3
Barbados Mount Gay Rum Regatta – Barbados, May 16 – 19
Sails Up 4 Cancer – Mystic River Yacht Club, June 21 – 22

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta started today! Race organizers have been working hard to mitigate their environmental impact on this beautiful island. While there are many challenges faced to make an event in the Caribbean a Gold Level Clean Regatta, organizers have found creative ways to reduce their environmental impact and raise awareness of the importance of ocean conservation. (See the list below pictures)

1.Biodegradable Water Bottles
2.Supporting conservation on island by collecting donations for Nature Foundation
3.Reusable water bottles & coffee tumblers given out in goody bags & to volunteers
4.Cups and bags used made from plant sourced biodegradable materials
5.Eliminated use of straws, reducing plastic waste
6.Education through Regatta Art Competition
7. Raising awareness of ocean conservation with Sailors for the Sea Clean Regattas messaging
8. Boats participating in regatta are not allowed to throw trash overboard
9. Trash bins are well placed and readily available at top of docks
10. Reusable Trophies
11. Paper free results & no flyers in goody bag – this has helped the regatta reduce paper use by at least 6 cases over the years.
12. Recycling – first year they are able to recycle cans & water bottles!
13. Beach Clean Up – Clean St. Maarten hired during event, and they will hold a second clean up with children after the event.
14. Reusable bow stickers
15. Gill the tech gear sponsor provided shirts made from 100% Recycled Polyester for regatta staff, additional some of the regatta merchandise is made from this material as well.