Conservation and sustainability take center stage in Plymouth

 

PLYMOUTH, UK - September 12, 2011 - The America's Cup community devoted time and energy on Monday's 'day off' from racing to focus on coastal conservation and marine protection, both locally in Plymouth, as well as in a global context.

In the morning, representatives from the teams, including the skippers, along with the event organizers, gathered at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth to participate in Coastal Conservation, removing debris and plastics from two local beaches. This follows on from a similar conservation effort in Portugal during the America's Cup World Series - Cascais.

"We thought it would be great to take advantage of the off day to contribute to the organization's sustainability efforts," said Vasilij Zbogar of Spain's Green Comm Racing. "The word green doesn't simply form part of the team's name, it also identifies its character. We want to show that you can still be environmentally friendly without compromising your competitiveness. That's why all the guys from the team went down to the beach and helped with the effort."

Later in the day, attention shifted to the AC Sustainability Forum, a panel discussion featuring some of theleading lights in marine conservation and research. Moderated by Paul Cox, the Head of Science and Learning at the National Marine Aquarium, the Forum focused on Marine Protected Areas.

Dr. Sylvia Earle, oceanographer, explorer, lecturer and scientist, said that time is critical, if we want to restore the health of the world's oceans: "Where Marine Protected Areas have been established, within just two or three years you see bigger fish, you see more marine life, and you see greater diversity of life generally. Marine Protected Areas work," Dr. Earle said. "This is the moment we can take conscious action. Only about 1% of the ocean has some form of protection, a tiny fraction of 1% is safe for lobsters and shrimp. It seems bizarre; we take our ocean for granted. It drives our life support system, it generates most of the oxygen, drives the carbon cycle. The idea that we have to take positive action is a big idea, but it's an idea whose time has come."

Jason Hall-Spencer is a marine biologist at the University of Plymouth. For him, Marine Protected Areas are a key component of ocean conservation: "We've got world class diving here in the south-west of England. We've got protected areas. Even Plymouth Sound is a protected area. The biggest mollusc in the UK is rare but it occurs off the Plymouth Hoe. As a protected area, you're not allowed to anchor yachts there. The message is getting through to harbor masters and others."

Dr. David Gibson, Managing Director, National Marine Aquarium noted that it's up to each person to take responsibility for improving the health of the oceans. "The single most effective change that people can make in their lives is reducing the carbon footprint in their homes," said Dr. Gibson. "The biggest single threat to global eco-systems is climate change; that has the potential of destroying plankton and phytoplankton which are a major source of providing the oxygen which everyone needs."

Craig Thompson, the CEO of the America's Cup Event Authority, said linking the competition for the oldest trophy in sport to the health of the world's oceans was a natural fit. "We at the America's Cup have a very unique opportunity that most sports don't have," he said. "Our sport takes place on the ocean, our athletes love the sea and our boats use the power of the wind. So we thought, what a great opportunity to link the America's Cup with saving the world's oceans."

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Focused on delivering a sporting competition with a purpose, event organizers have developed the America's Cup Sustainability Series to surface the urgent issues facing the health of the worlds' oceans. At each America's Cup event, conservation activities will be woven into the event program to generate awareness about the need for ocean conservation and restoration efforts.

In addition to the AC World Series Sustainability Series, ocean conservation and environmental stewardship elements are being embedded throughout the America's Cup as it travels to international destinations over the next three years, culminating in the America's Cup Finals in 2013.

Event organizers are utilizing the global platform of the 34th America's Cup to reach people around the world who have an affinity for our world's oceans, and motivate them to act to improve the health of the oceans. As part of this effort, event organizers has committed to profiling a new global model for sailing by partnering with Sailors for the Sea and their Clean Regattas program. To learn more about the commitment of the America's Cup, visit our Sustainability site