As self-professed 'Ambassadors of the Pacific marine lifestyle', in my recent conversation with the Victoria International Marina team, I couldn't help but appreciate their enthusiasm for environmentalism, supporting their title as Canada's first 'luxury green marina'.
This environmental awareness began with the dredging of the marina, situated in British Columbia, which had previously been a log boom yard. "Back in 2014 and 2015, we started our dredging programme. It excavated over 23,000 cubic metres of sand, silt, gravel and a lot of mulch," explains CEO Craig Norris. Prior to the marina's reincarnation as a destination for luxury yachts, the area was an industrial port for over 150 years. After the initial dredging, the team put eco-friendly gravel and rocks back in the water.
Those working in the marina, which is situated within a federal bird sanctuary, quickly noticed the plethora of wildlife that returned after the changes made to the area. "We placed down habitat to encourage life to come back," adds business development manager Greg Parish. "But what we never expected was how fast the life came back, to the point where we are doing underwater surveys with local colleges to watch the invertebrates and fish return." Norris, who is a trained environmental scientist, couldn't believe how the marina changed, in such a small amount of time. "It's amazing how life came back so quickly," he recalls. "The marina itself is [now] operating as a reef and a harbour for protecting fish."
The Victoria International Marina team, who have been vocal advocates of The Superyacht Group's 'Ocean ChariTee' campaign, then began to notice the plastic pollution in their local surroundings. "We really started looking on the top of the water, instead of in the water, and recognising [the plastic problem]. We were seeing the plastics come in, and because the way the marina is orientated and with the current, we inadvertently created a giant plastics bin." To minimise the pollution in the marina they have installed a waste management system, which will see 90 per cent of rubbish recycled.
The Victoria International Marina team have started to collaborate with a number of yachting companies and brands to raise awareness about their marina, but also how to engage with the maritime community on a broader level. "We want to bring people out here, we want to grow the industry and we have to take that responsibility on ourselves to make sure we are taking care of it." In light of this, the marina has signed a pledge to comply with the Clean Marine BC programme (a voluntary eco-certification initiative in the region) and plan to be carbon neutral by 2020.
"We want to bring people out here, we want to grow the industry and we have to take that responsibility on ourselves to make sure we are taking care of it."
The natural beauty of the environment is huge draw for yachts wishing to visit the region, therefore, the Victoria International Marina team felt it self-evident to protect this, knowing it would also hugely benefit their business by doing so. "It doesn't take a lot, it just takes the right decisions," explains Norris. "Nature does it for you. It's doing some awesome things, so we want to take this momentum, do a little bit more and see if it makes a bigger difference."
The attitude of the marina is indicative of the yachting industry's growing awareness of its own faults. It is important for every facet of the market, from builders, to captains, to marinas, to understand how small changes can make a significant impact on the environment. The Victoria International Marina team are acutely aware of the symbiotic relationship between sustainable business practices and attracting owners to explore the natural beauty of British Columbia.
To find out more about The Superyacht Group's 'Ocean Chari-tee' initiative, click here.
As part of The Superyacht Intelligence Business Package 2018, and following the success of the inaugural Mediterranean marina market study in 2017, The Superyacht Annual Report 2018: Marinas & Migration will be released later on this year. Find out more here.
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