As the chairman of the International SeaKeepers Society, Jay Wade (above, right) engages yacht owners who support its ocean-conservation mission. From honoring environmental supporters like Amos Nachoum (above, left) to spreading the word about its scientist-led expeditions, educational-outreach programs, and more, Wade is passionate about the cause. We spoke with him recently to learn more about how he went from growing up in a landlocked state to wanting to advocate for the oceans’ health. We additionally spoke with him about the DISCOVERY Yacht Program, SeaKeepers’ primary initiative.
MegayachtNews.com: Tell us a bit about your background, and why ocean conservation is so important to you.
Jay Wade: I’m from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I am often asked how I ended up a part of an ocean conservation group based in Florida. My short answer is, “because there weren’t any in Oklahoma!” Seriously, though, even though I don’t live near the ocean on a daily basis, and probably for that very reason, I’ve always been drawn to it. As a kid growing up on a small farm in Oklahoma, watching The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau was my only access to the oceans, and I think that’s where my desire to help protect and restore them started. Even though those shows weren’t specifically about conservation, they always had an undercurrent of exploring and protecting our oceans. That imprinted on me in a big way. It’s what I love and what SeaKeepers does every day.
MegayachtNews.com: It’s been said that we know more about space than we do about the ocean. How does the DISCOVERY Yacht Program help address this knowledge gap?
Jay Wade: The DISCOVERY Yacht program attempts to address that knowledge gap in three primary ways: coordination of member yachts for scientist-led expeditions to pursue their research and gather more knowledge of the oceans; citizen-science opportunities such as the S.A.R.A.H. nets initiative to gather data for scientific use; and sponsorship of educational-outreach programs to foster a love of the oceans and the need to conserve them in school-age kids so the next generation of ocean conservationists will thrive.
MegayachtNews.com: How does the SeaKeepers Yacht Donation Program support the DISCOVERY Yacht Program? Also, what are the benefits of contributing a vessel to SeaKeepers?
Jay Wade: Our yacht-donation program is the lifeblood of SeaKeepers. It provides us with the means necessary to build a strong community of yacht owners that understand the critical importance of protecting and restoring our oceans. I believe that a yacht donation to SeaKeepers is the most cost-effective way to help the oceans. By utilizing our extensive network of yachting professionals, we’re able to create a “network effect” and leverage the investment to create the highest possible value for conservation. When you donate a vessel to SeaKeepers, you not only receive a beneficial tax deduction, but create a lasting value for the oceans through our platforms that enable current and future researchers, scientists, and conservationists to perform their work, and you can’t put a price tag on that.
MegayachtNews.com: Why should the yachting community be an important contributor to ocean conservation?
Jay Wade: First and foremost because their livelihood depends on it. Aside from the fact that the health of the oceans directly correlates to the climate and environment of the terrestrial world we live on, for the yacht community an unhealthy ocean negatively affects the amount of time and money people are willing to spend enjoying it. We live in a big world, but it’s a closed-loop system, and if we don’t take care of it, then we’ll have nothing left to enjoy, and thus, no yacht community itself.
MegayachtNews.com: What is your vision of continued progress in supporting the mission of SeaKeepers?
Jay Wade: Ultimately, I’d like to see us expand to have a presence in every yacht hub around the world. Florida is the epicenter of the yacht industry, but the heath of the oceans is a global issue. Because of that, we need to have a global perspective and take our message around the world. Every culture in the world depends on the ocean whether they know it or not. Diversity is key to our health and understanding of life. Therefore, I believe that it’s critical to spread our message of research, educate, protect, and restore to all cultures and all oceans if we’re going to make the biggest impact.
International SeaKeepers Society seakeepers.org