Owners, guests, captains and the environment
Owners and guests are inherently interested in the health of the marine environment...aren't they?
Without clean oceans and healthy marine ecosystems, the superyacht experience will, invariably, lose its raison d’etre. It stands to reason then, those individuals that own, use or charter superyachts would be interested in the preservation of marine environment, right?
Well, not necessarily. According to our recent Captains’ Sentiment Survey, there was a 50/50 split between owners and guests that cared about the green agenda on board superyachts and those that didn’t. However, that is not to say that nothing is being done and that nothing can be done. Below are some of examples and findings from the Captain’s Sentiment Survey surrounding the preservation of our oceans, all responses were provided under the promise of anonymity.
Have you found that owners and guests are interested in the green agenda when on board?
Of the 40 owners that responded to the captain’s sentiment survey, 20 responded ‘No’ and 20 responded ‘Yes’. This 50/50 split, unfortunately, flies in the face of the market’s rhetoric and may go some way towards explaining why the development of green technologies has been lethargic at best.
What is being done on board your vessel to further the green agenda?
The good news
“On my vessel, a new one delivered in 2018, the NOx emission has been reduced by implementing a selective catalytic reduction system and having the main engines Tier3 compliant, a soot burner has been installed on the generators, ballast water treatment has been implemented, fresh water can be served directly from the tab including the use of CO2 for cold sparkling water dispensation, which allows the yacht to avoid tons of plastic bottles for the water. Grey and black water are treated in the way to avoid discharge at sea of polluting substances.
“We separate glass, cans, rubbish and paper.”
“I arrange a food collection by local churches for the homeless every two days.”
“The owner has installed drinking water systems for guests and crew. The system produces boiling, chilled and sparkling water. As captain I am no longer allowing plastic toothbrushes, disposable lighters, disposable razors and shower gel (bars of soap instead) to be purchased by the vessel for the crew. We are also installing filters on the washing machine outlets to limit micro-plastics and fibres to enter the sea.”
“Trying to reduce plastics brought aboard and recycle the ones that are. We also look very closely at cleaning products used.”
“New policies and procedures have been developed. New systems have been installed on board and a greater awareness and ‘crew attitude / culture’ instilled.”
The bad news
“Very little; the environment is important to [the owners], but they don’t want to spend the initial outlay, unfortunately. But, now we do use a watermaker for our guests.”
“Nothing. The owner refused to fit a still-water system to stop us using plastic bottled. But, saying that, the system was so expensive, so why should we be penalised financially just because we are a yacht?”
While there were a number of negative responses, unlike the ‘Yes/No’ question, the vast majority of captains, at the very least, have clearly tried to reduce the use of single-use plastics on board. Naturally, some vessels are limited in terms of what they can do environmentally because of, for example, the age of the vessel itself. However, one issue that was highlighted repeatedly is that the sheer cost of green systems is off-putting. Indeed, there is a great deal of hypocrisy in the idea that, should you wish to be environmentally-friendly, you need to pay a premium.
What can the industry do to help?
“Appoint direct environmental protection responsibilities to the captain’s role and increase the inspections of discharges into marina waters, which are constant. It’s a hot topic, as usually, marina managers don’t want to lose clients and allow them to discharge even into the more susceptible waters of the world.”
“Make ports more recyclable-friendly.”
“Ports never have enough recycling facilities;
“Firstly, awareness. Secondly, demonstrate the benefits of a new eco-outlook – a carrot. Thirdly, find a stick to beat the point home to the incalcitrant.”
“Ports/marinas should improve recycling/waste facilities.”
Respondents came up with a variety of suggestions, ranging from innovation and awareness to regulation and punishment. However, by far the most common response (as highlighted above) is that marinas and ports need to make it easier for vessels to recycle. It is all well and good pointing the finger at the vessels themselves, after all everyone else does, but the health of the marine environment cannot just be an end user problem, it is everyone’s problem.
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