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World Ocean Day Launches a Multi-Year Action Theme

Tomorrow is World Ocean Day. Lots of yacht clubs have banned plastic straws, and lots of sailors and sailing organizations are working to minimize their impact and help improve the health of our oceans. We think that’s all worth talking about!

World Ocean Day is launching a new multi-year action theme: Catalyzing Action for Our Ocean & Climate. “By growing the movement through transformative collaboration, we aim to create not only a healthy blue planet, but also a more just, equitable and sustainable society.”
© 2024

Sailors for the Sea has been on a daily mission to keep our oceans healthy and reduce our impact since 2004. This organization hosts the Green Boating program, Clean Regattas, and KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans), and provides information on the various ways sailors can do their part for a cleaner ocean. They also host a webpage called Ocean Watch, a collection of stories about people and organizations around the planet working on ocean health projects.

Locally we want to give a shout-out to Mary Crowley and the Ocean Voyages Institute (OVI), who have been cleaning fishing nets out of the ocean since 2009. Aboard the 140-ft vessel KWAI, the OVI crew spend weeks at sea, collecting the abandoned, lost, and discarded nets known as ghost nets, along with other floating trash. In July 2022, KWAI docked in Sausalito to offload 96 tons that had been hauled in during one of the crew’s regular voyages, which can last up to 55 days. In 2020, OVI had completed the largest open-ocean cleanup in history. They recovered and upcycled, recycled and repurposed around 340,000 pounds (170 tons) of plastics. The organization also operates Project Kaisei, in which scientists aboard the 151-ft brigantine Kaisei have been collecting samples and data from the North Pacific Gyre.

Ghost nets aboard KWAI.
© 2024 Locky MacLean

Another group working to clean trash from our waters, The Ocean Cleanup was founded by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat in his hometown of Delft, the Netherlands, in 2013. He was 18. Last month The Ocean Cleanup live-streamed its 100th plastic extraction from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) since its first collection effort in 2021. The operation was live-streamed, from start to finish, to show us how the nonprofit organization has removed over 385,000 kilograms (nearly 850,000 pounds) of plastic from the GPGP to date.

On the international sailing front, SailGP and 11th Hour Racing are incorporating climate action into their race programs. SailGP has added Better Planet into its yearlong race schedule. The program includes the Clean Energy Roadmap, Local Impact Projects, and On-Shore/On-Water Transition plans. Their purpose is to use clean energy for its support vehicles and boats, and to support projects or NGOs that are operating climate-positive projects in the various SailGP host cities.

11th Hour Racing works to win high-profile ocean racing events. It also works with the sailing community and maritime industries to advance solutions and practices that protect and restore ocean health. 11th Hour Racing was established to “use the power of sport to restore a balanced relationship between people and planet ….” To this end the organization is working on various actions, from eliminating single-use plastics at regattas to supporting an ambassador program “to champion collaborative, systemic change across the sailing and sports communities to benefit our oceans.”

And then there are individual sailors who are making it their mission to spread the word about climate action. Bruce Balan and Alene Rice of the California-based Cross 46 trimaran Migration and sailor/adventurer/climate activist Liz Clark have lived on the water for decades, spending their time and energy sharing information and supporting climate-positive projects and initiatives. Liz is also an ambassador for the above-mentioned 11th Hour Racing.

We know there are many more people out there doing great work for our planet. We can’t fit them all into one story. But we hope you get the idea that there’s a lot of positive action taking place, and we can be a part of it simply by being conscious of and minimizing our own negative impacts on the oceans. We also hope you learn more about the people and organizations we’ve mentioned, and that perhaps they’ve inspired you to do even more to help look after our oceans and the planet.


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