The non-profit organization Water Revolution Foundation has been focusing on driving sustainability in the superyacht industry for the past few years. As part of that, it’s launching a campaign to connect the industry and clients to scientists needing funding for Important Marine Mammal Areas.
Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) are habitats that are home to various species that should be managed for conservation. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), comprised of global government and private-sector organizations, identifies IMMAs. It does so without regard to political or socio-economic factors, too. Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara co-chairs the IUCN Task Force on Marine Mammal Protected Areas. He explains that the main objective is to map the regions. “If we don’t know the most important places where whales, dolphins, seals, manatees live in the ocean, we can’t protect them,” he says. These mammals are particularly vital, since each plays an important ecological role. Whales, for example, fertilize surface waters when they feed. Furthermore, their bodies store enormous amounts of carbon, which remains locked away inside their sunken carcasses when they die.
Robert van Tol, Water Revolution Foundation’s executive director, says his organization spent the last few months determining which conservation effort to support. “The key is to make conservation an important pillar in our sector,” he explains. “We have to go beyond our footprint.” Besides, he adds, “the superyacht industry is intrinsically connected to the ocean.” Vienna Eleuteri, initiator and vice-chair of the Foundation, further says, “The ocean is the perfect system for supporting our planet and our life. …Biodiversity within the ocean represents the entire cycle of life,” from the smallest organisms to the largest mammals.” And, of course, the new initiative ensures the industry not only helps scientists, but also supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
“The IMMA program ticked all the boxes,” Eleuteri continues, in terms of have demonstrable results and a positive multiplier effect. Furthermore, is already has support from government agencies, non-government organizations, and leading scientists. Specifically, Water Revolution Foundation is crowdfunding to help scientists create an IMMA in the North Atlantic Ocean. “This is a popular route for superyachts crossing between the Mediterranean and Caribbean,” van Tol points out. The cost, according van Tol, is not insignificant. Scientists have indicated that €550,000 will fund those striving to map the region for conservation and proper management.
“This is an investment, not compensation,” Eleuteri emphasizes, and van Tol agrees. “We need to shift from viewing ocean conservation as philanthropy to understanding that it is an investment,” he stresses. This is why Water Revolution Foundation wants the industry, owners, crews, and guests to understand the goal and contribute.
There’s already good news. Peter Lürssen, a Foundation board member, has pledged to match every euro raised through his private family foundation. This means scientists can start work on what once 50 percent of funds come in via the crowdfunding campaign.
Water Revolution Foundation waterrevolutionfoundation.org/immas