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:

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


Antigua Sailing Week!

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 2.29.05 PMThis weekend kicks off Antigua Sailing Week! This year race organizers have teamed up with a local organization, The Environmental Awareness Group of Antigua & Barbuda to help them run Clean Regattas. The event organizers are aiming for Bronze Level Clean Regatta certification by implementing 6 of our Clean Regattas Best Practices. This includes:

  • Water Bottle Reduction
  • Trash Free Regatta
  • No Discharge of  sewage
  • Encouraging use of Alternative Fuels
  • Recycling
  • Reducing Bottom cleaning to reduce bottom paint leeching

Race organizers have also done an excellent job encouraging those racing to join the cause. To learn more, click here.

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.

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.

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.

America’s Cup World Series achieve Platinum Clean Regatta certification

Green Team sorting at recycling station.

Green Team sorting at recycling station.

Sailors for the Sea is recognizing the America’s Cup World Series San Francisco regattas each with the first-ever Platinum level Clean Regattas certification. These regattas are the first to achieve platinum level certification, which recognizes achieving almost all possible points.

Some innovative highlights that helped the America’s Cup achieve this certification include:

  • Styrofoam (from computer packaging) was donated to Waste to Waves – to make surfboards!bike guide
  • Sourced Non-PVC branding materials for signs/banners
  • Providing free local drinking water for spectators
  • Use of of biodiesel and solar for event power
  • Serving only sustainably harvested seafood
  • Compostable service ware at concessions
  • Strong plan to encourage spectators to use bike and public transit
  • Outreach programs promoting marine protection through the America’s Cup Healthy Ocean Project.
  • A 98% landfill diversion rate at the second ACWS San Francisco event last October. Green teams helped separate, trash, composting, and recycling. 9.89 tons of waste was recycle, 3.28 tons composted, and only .27 tons sent to the landfill.

IMG_0968We are very excited to see the progress made by the America’s Cup World Series events in regards to their commitment to Clean Regattas, which started by achieving a Bronze level certification at the first event in Cascais, Portugal. Sailors for the Sea executive director Dan Pingaro notes, “The AC World Series events have been conducted with a high degree of environmental consciousness and attention to minimizing any potential negative impact the events could have on the local ecosystem. Together we have established a strong track record of success that includes action and education.”

For more information, read the full press release.

Clean Regatta Video

We would like to give a special thanks to all the organizers, participants and volunteers who have helped grow the Clean Regattas programs! Thanks to your efforts, this year:

  • Over 80,000 sailors participated in Clean Regattas
  • 75,000 disposable plastic bottles were prevented from entering the waste stream
  • Over 30 tons of food waste was composted
  • 17 regattas achieved Gold certification, including the first ever Gold outside of the US at BVI Race Week

This commitment helps ensure that our oceans will stay healthy for generations to come. Check out our new video, which illustrates the impact just one regatta series can have:

Now is the time to register your 2013 Clean Regatta! We’re adding tons of new resources this year, web badges to show off your certifications, and more. As always, please let us know if there is anything you would like to see improved about the Clean Regattas experience.

Seabirds getting hooked

hooked cormorant

A hooked cormorant on the dock in Ft. Lauderdale. Photo by Mark Ivey

Spotted on the dock in Ft. Lauderdale a cormorant that got hooked by his potential meal. It looks like the cormorant was a victim of either a baited fishing line being cut free or longline fishing. Sadly longline fishing kill an estimated 300,000 seabirds every year.  Fishing with hook and line gear or having faster sinking longlines are two changes that the fishing industry can take to prevent hooking birds. Recreational fisherman should always avoid cutting lines and make sure they don’t leave behind any spare hooks or line on shore. Also having regular shoreline clean ups can help reduce fishing line that often washes up on shore, saving bare feet and wildlife.

If you are not a fisherman you can still make a big difference by eating sustainable seafood. Asking questions about how your fish was caught allows you to support fisheries that don’t use longlines. For example, with regards to eating Mahi Mahi, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Guide notes: “Commercial fishermen primarily use longlines and hook-and-line gear to catch mahi mahi. There is considerable concern about bycatch from longlining as sea turtles, seabirds, sharks and marine mammals get caught or entangled, often resulting in injury or death. Fisheries using hook-and-line gear (such as troll, pole-and-line, or handline), catch little to no bycatch and are more sustainable.”

To learn more about Seabirds and the problems they face visit BirdLife International. Special thanks to Mark Ivey for sending the photo, and helping draw attention to this important topic!

2 years of Rainy Day Kits!

A scaled up version of All the Glitters at the Newport America's Cup Wold Series. Kids & adults learned to "see like a fish" in the deep ocean.

A scaled up version of All the Glitters at the Newport America’s Cup Wold Series. Kids & adults learned to “see like a fish” in the deep ocean.

This January marks the second year of our Rainy Day Kits program! Since the programs inception 45,000 children have explored the ocean ecosystem with these hands on, interactive lesson plans. We have found that 55% of downloads come from sailing programs, and 45% from museums, camps, and schools. Showing the lesson plans diversity!

Rainy Day kits are informal, fun lesson plans that allow children to learn about marine ecology and ocean conservation without expensive laboratory materials. Lesson supplies can generally be found in an office, or purchased with a quick trip to staples. If you are very resourceful, you can collect some supplies right out of the recycling bin!

We have rounded up a few our favorite things involving Rainy Day Kits:

Our favorite lesson name: The Deadliest Catch
Our favorite lesson to teach: Dirty Water Challenge – get nice and muddy teaching kids about the water cycle!

Best quotes: From John O’Flaherty, Providence Community Boating: “The best way to protect the environment is to create little environmentalist. Rainy Day Kits from Sailors for the Sea drive  home today’s biggest ecological concepts to our smallest stakeholders. Out youths sailors will be seeing these kits in our lesson plans – rain or shine.”

Best picture:

Youth playing with Rainy Day Kits

Sailors at Ida Lewis Yacht Club learn about the water cycle with Dirty Water Challenge.

A big thanks to our contributors: Pew Environment Group, Scipps Institute of Oceanography, University of Miami’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, The Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the New England Aquarium, the Harte Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
To download vist: