Protecting the environment with intelligence

New alliance seeks to make sailing greener

LONDON-based campaigning organisation the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Global Ocean Race 2011-2012 (GOR) have announced a unique partnership, working together to develop better environmental practice at sea and seek ways to prevent collisions between whales and yachts.

The partnership was formally announced at the fifth annual Solo Racing Festival and Boat Show, at the Royal Southern Yacht Club, in Hamble, Southampton, on Saturday, March 12.

The main aim of the EIA/GOR alliance will be to create an education programme to foster greater environmental awareness among the international sailing community, including:

• codes of best environmental practice for ocean races, as well as for pleasure sailing, day racing and sailing regattas;

• increasing global awareness of the threat of strikes of whales by yachts, and the importance of reporting such incidents;

• developing new strategies to reduce whale strikes.

The Global Ocean Race 2011-12 begins on September 25, 2011 in Palma, Mallorca, and is a 33,000-mile circumnavigation for 40ft, high-performance Class 40 racing yachts. Each boat will be crewed by two co-skippers to sail through some of the most remote areas of the planet during the nine-month race, split into five legs with stopovers in South Africa, New Zealand, Uruguay and the USA.

Jennifer Lonsdale, EIA Director, said: “Collisions between whales and sailing yachts threaten the lives of both whales and sailors and can cause catastrophic damage to vessels. The EIA/GOR partnership aims to increase awareness of this threat and to work with the international sailing community, scientists and experts to find ways to prevent collisions.

“Also, ocean sailors go to places other mariners do not; we wish to build a programme of data collection to which they can contribute, to enhance our knowledge of the oceans and the species inhabiting them.

“This is an exciting new opportunity to set high standards for environmental responsibility among the sailing community – standards we hope will be adopted by other race organisers and sailing clubs around the world.”

Josh Hall, Race Director of the Global Ocean Race 2011-12, said: “It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of our oceans and the effect they have on the overall health of our planet.

“Offshore sailors have the privilege and challenge of sailing across vast, remote areas of the sea and often witness, first-hand, signs that the wellbeing of our precious marine environment is under threat.

“This partnership between the Global Ocean Race and the Environmental Investigation Agency is a vital alliance that will highlight crucial issues and help educate a new generation to the irreparable damage that may be inflicted on marine ecosystems. I sincerely hope it will encourage other offshore racing organisations to act responsibly, confront the impact our sport has on the oceans and assist with valuable scientific research.”

Interviews are available on request from:

EIA Director Jennifer Lonsdale at
jenniferlonsdale@eia-international.org
or telephone 01328 829546 / 07778 186785

GOR Communications Director Oliver Dewar at
oliver.dewar@globaloceanrace.com
or telephone 01983 761696

EDITORS’ NOTES

1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK-based Non Governmental Organisation and charitable trust (registered charity number 1040615) that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals.

2. For full details of the Global Ocean Race 2011-2012 and the latest news, visit http://globaloceanrace.com/index.php

3. Whales can be struck by vessels of all sizes. Struck whales can be from endangered populations as well as more plentiful ones. It is an indiscriminate threat to whales. Very often the whale is lost before there can be any identification or assessment of injury. For population estimate calculations, it will be assumed that these whales die from their injuries. It is highly likely many will die and all will suffer severe pain and distress as a result of a strike. This is a particular problem for sailing vessels because it can be catastrophic for the whale, sailor and yacht. A strike can bring a 60ft racing yacht travelling at 15 knots to an abrupt halt.

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