Sunday, 18 November 2012

Plenty More Uses for the Sea

Yesterday the Vestas Sailrocket broke the World sail speed record averaging 59.23 knots with a highest recorded speed of 62.53 knots.

Just watch the video below and be amazed at this yacht. There is a lovely moment about half way through when a flock of pink flamingoes come into shot emphasising the "natural" against a vessel which represents the cutting edge of technological advancement but is still one of the most "natural" of vessels on the surface of the ocean by virtue of the fact that it is entirely wind-powered. And what incredible results that produced!

It isn't lost on me that this record was set in Namibia where the Government is engaged in seal killing on a massive scale. Worse even than the excesses of the Canadians or the Scots with their own seal culls, the Namibian seal cull is something altogether more horrible in scale: it is the world's largest and cruelest, anual, marine mammal slaughter of 85,000 still-nursing baby seal pups. Info from: Sea Shepherd's Operation Desert Seal

Today's blog considers which is the better use of the ocean - killing to profit a very, very few whilst damaging our common wealth of resource or pushing the limits to eventually benefit everyone with technology and the inspiration to do something new, something positive, something to be proud of not ashamed of.

Did you know it is illegal to film the seal slaughter in Namibia?

Similarly in Canada it is illegal to approach within 1,000 metres of a seal cull because the one weapon they are most afraid of is the camera and the Scottish authorities will not reveal the addresses of establishments with a licence to shoot seals because they fear the inevitable publicity as well.

You can film the nice stuff with absolute freedom though. Hey, Governments will even help publicise it through their tourist boards and I approve of that completely. What I do not approve of is the mindset that has you ashamed of bad behaviour but unwilling to take steps to change it. That is as true for entire Governments as it is for all of us as individuals.

The argument which we always hear from governments the World over whether they are killing seals or not is that they need to support the fishing industry because it provides the only source of employment in small coastal communities. I assure you, dear reader, that I am not insensitive to the needs for employment, in coastal, other rural or any other community anywhere at all but I am wary of the belief that there is only ever one way of doing things.

I do think that it is Government's job to create the conditions under which communities can thrive but I also think that it is up to us all to make sure that we take advantage of that and in my business life it is something that I am actively engaged in and like to think that I am making some kind of a difference.

The fishing boat pictured here is typical of the Scottish coastal fishing fleet with a crew of 2 and providing onshore full-time equivalent employment for maybe another 2 or 3 people. A wildlife watching tour vessel matches that. A dive support vessel matches that. A pleasure cruise vessel matches that. And whilst a private sail or power yacht may not match the direct employment, it will certainly more than match the shore-based full time equivalent support jobs.

Ocean Breeze Rib Tours
So where are the Government grants? Where are the community development initiatives? Where are the grand plans to shift employment from the desperately hard, unprofitable and increasingly unsustainable coastal fishing industry to a modern employment, still making full use of the sea but doing so in a profitable and sustainable way?

Imagine the impact of that happening worldwide with an estimated fishing fleet of almost 2.5 MILLION fishing vessels smaller than 10 metres, just like the one above. Imagine what we could achieve by investing in innovation rather than shoring up the old and failing? Imagine an entire new worldwide industry and an entire new way of viewing the ocean as a resource - profit without exploitation.

Consider finally, if you will, the size of team it must have taken to put together the Vestas Sailrocket project. How many scientists, technicians, designers, planners, builders, transporters, marketers and a dozen other specialised crafts it must have taken to get the boat from first thought to smashing the record? Consider the same for America's Cup, Volvo Ocean, Sydney-Hobart and all the other famous - and not so famous - yacht races. Consider a marina, any marina. Go and visit one near you and consider, please, there ARE plenty more uses for the sea.

Thank you for reading.