Environmental Considerations in the BVI Marine Industry

I was sitting at the British Virgin Islands Charter Yachts annual meeting and amongst all of the usual points came up: marina fees, pickup points, and caterers. I found it very interesting that everyone was really concerned and interested in how they and their business were affecting the environment that we all take for granted. Suddenly everyone was proudly bringing up ideas and things that they do on their vessels to make their impact more environmentally friendly. It was fascinating and made me very proud to be affiliated with these business people that were so responsible to the environment that brings tourists down here.

I could go on way too long with everything they brought up, but I will highlight some of the more popular themes. The bottled water that is consumed by the case was one that got everyone’s attention. Full bags of these plastic bottles are thrown away each day while on charter. Some vessels even went so far as to install a water cooler with the 5 gallon tanks, others were buying the water in the one gallon containers and giving the charter guests their own personalized water bottle for the duration of the charter. I couldn’t help thinking that spread over a fleet of hundreds of vessels, the impact of this alone would be staggering.

Keeping all machinery in good mechanical order was another of the ideas. Just the regular maintenance alone would bring in a fuel saving, lowering the emissions and ensuring the guests a comfortable charter. A/C units not being run all day and night, wind scoops to keep the cabins fresh all day and then the A/C in the cabins for the night. This reduces the generator usage and once again the environment is the winner thanks to fuel use reduction.

Wildlife is a big draw in the BVI and everyone had great ideas on that also. Giving an environmental brief when the guests first arrive to ensure that they will not abuse (through neglect or ignorance) the reefs, turtles and abundant creatures we have. Letting them know how they can play an important role in the preservation of this beautiful playground we are fortunate enough to work and live in.

I left that meeting very proud of all of my friends in the charter industry. If we could all get together and maintain this kind of attitude moving ahead, just think of the effect we can have! All of this will still be here for generations to come and charters in the future will respect the movement we started. What a good feeling!

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