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.

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!

Northeast Regional Planning Body

Do you sail or boat in New England? The Northeast Regional Planning Body needs you!

SailNewEnglandThe Northeast Regional Planning Body (a group working on National Ocean Policy in New England) will be holding public meetings for feedback on the draft regional ocean planning goals and associated potential actions. These meetings are for stakeholders and users of New England waterways. (Sailors & Boaters this is you!)

These meetings will also be an opportunity to review draft maps created to show the natural resources and diverse uses of the ocean. Public comment will be taken at these meetings, and if you are not available to attend but wish to provide input, the public comment the deadline is June 28, 2013.

These public meetings will be held in May and June as follows:

May 23, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Portland, ME
May 28, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Narragansett, RI
June 3, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Ellsworth, ME
June 4, 5:30 to 8:30 PM Rockland, ME
June 6, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Boston, MA
June 13, 4:00 to 7:00 PM New Haven, CT
June 17, 4:00 to 7:00 PM New Bedford, MA
June 18, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Gloucester, MA
June 19, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Barnstable, MA
June 25, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Portsmouth, NH

For additional information about these meetings and how to provide public comment visit: http://northeastoceancouncil.org/regional-planning-body/public-meetings/

What’s in ballast water?

THEY called it the blob that ate the Black Sea. Thirty years ago, a ship from North America sailed up the Bosphorus and dumped ballast water containing comb jellyfish from back home. The invader – Mnemiopsis leidyi – went crazy, gobbling up plankton and triggering a catastrophic decline in marine life, including commercial fisheries. At one point its biomass reached a billion tonnes, 10 times the world’s annual fish landings.

A simple drawing of a ballast system.

A simple drawing of a ballast system.

While the quote above from a recent article by New Scientist sounds like a tall tale from a nightmare, it is a true story about invasive species. Invasive or alien species damage the lands and waters that native plants and animals need to survive.

Boats, specifically their thru-hulls and ballast water often accidentally help spread invasive species. One of our Clean Regattas Best Practices asks regatta organizers to require boats traveling by trailer to a different body of water to scrub their hull where they are pulled out of the water. This can greatly help reduce the chances that a recreational boat spreads invasive species.

Zebra Mussels

Zebra Mussels – one of the more commonly known invasive species in North America.

It is very important for recreational boaters to do their part, however it is important to note the impact of the shipping industry in the spread of invasive species as well. The global transport of ballast water is the single biggest cause of marine invasive species being spread in our oceans, lakes and rivers. A United Nations treaty agreed in 2004 that would require ships to install kits to kill off biological stowaways in their ballast water has still not been ratified by enough nations to come into force (including the US). Learn more about this problem and the treaty in the recent article by New Scientist: Ships must kill off the beasties in the ballast water.

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.

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!

Vendee Globe & Sustainability

ACCIONA at sea. © Jesus Renedo / ACCIONA

ACCIONA at sea. © Jesus Renedo / ACCIONA

With the last finishers of the 2012-2013 Vendee Globe race making it in to port, our office is sad to see this awesome race coming to an end. However we see much to celebrate with the high priority placed on renewable energy by the boat ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered, which made it 98% of the way around the world without a drop of diesel! (The keel is to blame for the capsize that prevented finishing not a lack of diesel fuel)

Spaniard Javier “Bubi” Sanso, the skipper of ACCIONA, used a combination of solar panels, wind generators, and hydro generators. While many boats have some of these items, the combination of all three with a strong battery system and an electric engine allows ACCIONA to be self-reliant. A recent article from the NY Times notes the importance of having all three devices: “He will lean more on different systems as he goes,” Feliu said. “The race starts in France in the winter; that impacts the solar panel. He has less sun then when he started, but down there it’s summer and the degrees of the sun’s impact are greater. He has speed for hydro generators. There will be less wind in the tropics but more sun.”

Solar panels aboard ACCIONA. © Jesus Renedo / ACCIONA

Solar panels aboard ACCIONA. © Jesus Renedo / ACCIONA

ACCIONA was the first boat to ever be entered into the Vendee Globe with an electric engine, in fact the rules had to be changed to allow the boat into the race. We are excited to see innovators such as Sanso, his team and his sponsor, ACCIONA, pushing for change in the sport of sailing and making reducing their carbon footprint a priority in their racing!

For more information on this topic read, Eco-Power? Strangely new in Sailing, by Chris Museler.