The blue economy is setting a sustainable course ahead.
U.S. Superyacht Association’s ninth annual Superyacht Summit was held Tuesday at The Canopy by Hilton in downtown West Palm Beach in advance of the Palm Beach International Boat Show.
The summit featured a panel of six industry experts speaking on the “blue economy,” which is defined by the World Bank as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” The panel was moderated by USSA chairwoman Diane M. Byrne, founder and editor of Megayacht News.
Panelist Eddy Denison of YachtSalesInternational.com focused on hybrid electrical yachts, specifically Greenline. Denison spoke about the reduction of fossil fuel consumption that hybrid yachts offer, along with such perks as the elimination of the smelly and loud generator that is responsible for sleepless nights.
“I think it’s pretty much one of the most environmentally friendly boats out there in the production world,” Denison said.
Panelist Lauren Wardley is owner and founder of Ethical Yacht Wear. Wardley started out as a yacht stew before creating her company, which provides sustainable yachting uniforms using organic cotton and recycled material developed from ocean plastics. Ethical Yacht Wear donates a large percentage of their profits to Plastic Bank, a for-profit social enterprise that pays people in developing countries to pick up plastic waste.
“Through our profits, we’ve helped around 440 families have access to basic needs, healthcare, and very basic necessities,” Wardley said.
Panelist Richard Strauss, CEO of Teakdecking Systems, spoke about alternatives to teak decking. A 2021 coup in Myanmar, the main exporter of the teak used on yachts, severed sustainable forestation plans for teak, according to Strauss. Two alternatives that Strauss believes will become the new norm are plantation-grown teak and “Green Teak,” which is produced in a new process that involves veneering young teak trees, slicing the veneers, then gluing the slices together to create teak battens.
Panelist Susan Zellers is program director at Ocean Exchange, a nonprofit organization that awards money to startups that are creating sustainable solutions for the blue economy. Zellers spoke about the numerous startups that have been awarded by Ocean Exchange, including “twelve.”
“Twelve was a 2015 Collegiate winner and a 2019 Neptune winner,” Zellers said. “They are taking carbon out of the air and turning it into fuel.”
Panelist Tony Gilbert, chief programs officer at The International Seakeepers Society, spoke about the scientific research that yacht owners can champion. Seakeepers is a not-for-profit organization that partners with the yachting community to further oceanographic research and marine conservation, often with the crucial help of privately owned yachts.
There is so much to discover and to learn about conserving what we have, Gilbert noted. “To do it with just the small handful of research vessels that exist is just not enough.”
The sixth panelist at the summit was Robert van Tol, co-founder and executive director of Water Revolution Foundation. The foundation provides a collaborative platform for sustainability in the superyacht industry, bringing likeminded companies together. They teach practices that have the best environmental impact and provide tools to help the industry with sustainability.
Although the panelists were experts in different fields, they all agreed that education and collaboration are key to improving the blue economy.