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Success for superyacht owner-propelled eco-charity Blue Marine

Success for superyacht owner-propelled eco-charity Blue Marine

Alamilla was acutely aware of its importance. ‘As minister, one of the first things I committed to was to ensure this atoll was afforded legislative protection; it provides an opportunity for its sound management to safeguard the integrity of important ecosystems and biodiversity and to sustain the livelihoods of our artisanal coastal fishers who have depended on this atoll for generations

The inclusion of local people is a vital plank of the Turneffe project – and all BLUE projects. ‘It is a much more complex marine reserve than Chagos – a gigantic, essentially unpopulated area,’ says Duffield. ‘Turneffe is a mixed-use area, there are fishermen whose needs need to be taken into consideration. As a working exemplar it’s much more applicable elsewhere.’

A significant proportion of the budget for the project will be spent on communication and education to the local community. It’s not a hard sell. ‘Fishers should experience a more sustained production level, which will generate more income for their households,’ says Alamilla.

Duffield agrees: ‘They know fishing is collapsing, they’re getting less every year and it’s taking more effort. They’re waiting for somebody to help them get to a more sustainable future.’ And for help in protecting it. ‘My ministry, with the assistance of donors like that of the Bertarelli Foundation, will continue to work with its stakeholders, in particular the co-managers of the reserve, to provide long term financing and management to the area and ensure its protection,’ says Alamilla.

Dorset success

BLUE has also found local fishermen to be a driving force for its project on the other side of the world, in Lyme Bay, on the UK’s Dorset coast. Ten years ago, the bay’s rocky reefs, with their sunset corals and sea fans, were being smashed to bits by scallop dredges. A marine reserve set up by the Government failed to improve fish stocks and riled local fishermen.

BLUE entered the scene, working with fishermen in four ports, including Lyme Regis, to agree a voluntary code limiting the pots and nets they can use. In return, they are likely to retain access to the fishery and aid the recovery of the reefs. They also get a marketable fish caught sustainably in the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve. The notable feature is it is voluntary. As BLUE puts it: ‘One day we will back away, leaving a management system in place.’

Oliver Letwin, the Member of Parliament for West Dorset, calls it, ‘A remarkable code, which offers a prospect of sustainable fishing off this wonderful part of Britain’s coastline.’

Where tourism helps

It’s not just communities and politicians making changes. On the Baa Atoll in the Maldives, BLUE has collaborated with another stakeholder in the marine environment: the tourism industry. Hotels agreed to donate a percentage of income to the management of the area. BLUE helped seed-fund the local managing body and will invest in the enforcement of the area. ‘The leisure industry protecting its resources is a great model,’ says Duffield.

Blue Marine Yacht Club

Yacht owners are still at the heart of BLUE’s work. The charity’s most recent yacht-related coup has been characteristically high-net-worth and low-key. Following a speech at the launch of the Blue Marine Yacht Club at the 2012 Monaco Yacht Show, HRH Prince Albert has become the Club’s patron.

Members (who financially support the charity) fly a burgee designed by Ralph Lauren. The sight of them in glamorous ports is a public statement of support for BLUE – and hopefully the beginning of a trend. It seems to be working, with four new members since we last reported on the Club including Olivier de Givenchy and Peter Dubens.

These people, like an increasing number of others across the world, understand that the oceans are the repository of much of Earth’s natural wealth – and they really are too big to fail.

Originally Published in Boat International April 2013

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