Building yachts in clean seas
For all of us, and particularly in the yachting market, ocean pollution is a growing concern. So what measures are our yacht building colleagues in the Netherlands taking in the fight to protect the oceans from the rising tide of plastic pollution and marine litter?
Damen’s yachting activities, including its Amels superyachts, Yacht Support craft and SeaXplorer expedition yachts, are focussed at its two yards in Vlissingen in the province of Zeeland in the south of the Netherlands. The province, renowned for its beautiful 650 kilometres of coastline, is popular amongst tourists and surrounded by on-water boating and shipping activity.
“Owning a superyacht is fun, we’re in the fun business,” comments Victor Caminada, Brand and Communications Manager, “but we’ve all witnessed a growing appreciation of the threat that ocean pollution is to the long-term sustainability of our industry. It’s our clients’ playground and the problem reaches all our shores, even right here in our own backyard.”
Clean beach collaboration
Three times a month the Vlissingen team invites local residents as well as students and sustainability lecturers from the local HZ University of Applied Sciences to join them in cleaning up rubbish and plastic on Vlissingen’s coastline and inner harbour. Beach clean-ups are made logistically possible thanks to a collaboration with the local council and above all the harbour master who provide know-how, materials and responsible disposal of collected waste.
Initiatives to promote, sustain and facilitate clean beaches include the Amels-sponsored iconic ‘arty’ rubbish bin located next to one of the area’s most popular beach restaurants, run together with the environmental organisation Doe Mee, Verlos de Zee (Join us, save the sea).
At the Vlissingen city yard, a large floating rubbish bin called a Seabin filters out unwanted waste and plastic, generating improved water quality and collecting an estimated 1.5 kilos of drifting waste per day. Located in the harbour on the doorstep of the yard, the Seabin minimises the plastic and waste that washes up on local inland water shores and beyond.
Fishing for Litter
The North Sea provides plentiful fishing grounds, but the nets designed to trawl the latest catch more often than not also reel in unwanted marine litter. Fishing for Litter is an initiative that provides hardwearing bags for the collection of any marine litter caught in the net and facilitates and funds the deposit of the waste on the quayside at participating ports. Amels is proud to sponsor Fishing for Litter for the Vlissingen fleet of fishermen located next to the shipyard.
An extensive eco-system of marine life depends entirely upon the ecological balance of the waters surrounding the shores local to Amels. There is no better measure than the presence of seals who will only thrive in waters of the highest quality. Sponsoring the local seal sanctuary Aseals guarantees care and rehabilitation to ensure as many seals as possible can be returned safely and healthily to the place they call home. On March 14th, two rehabilitated seals adopted by Amels were released back into the sea in Vlissingen.
Schone Schelde Covenant
The Scheldt estuary, which forms a significant portion of Zeeland’s coastline, sees 40,000 ship movements a year and is home to a number of large industrial firms. In February 2019, 28 local parties including Damen signed an agreement acknowledging the joint responsibility to tackle litter waste problems at source thus preventing contribution to the global “plastic soup” issues. The covenant marks a landmark decision locally in cooperation, responsibility and pro-active measures in the fight to sustain our local and global shorelines and oceans.