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11th January 2022

Leading the Way – Superyachts and Plastic-free Oceans

The luxury yachting industry is universally passionate about the ocean, relying on it for both our livelihoods and our enjoyment, taking pleasure in exploring the most beautiful and unspoilt marine environments in the world. In the Asia Pacific we enjoy a particularly rich and beautiful seascape, with crystal clear waters, vast stretches of clean beaches and an abundance of marine life. When marvelling at this beauty it can sometimes be easy to forget the big challenge facing our oceans – plastic pollution.

Sadly, even the most pristine waters have plastic pollution, demonstrating a truly global problem. Sobering images of plastic-choked beaches and dead whales are the realities of eight million tons of plastic waste entering our oceans every year. Vast floating garbage patches have formed in the five main ocean gyres, and over 90 percent of seabirds have ingested plastics, mistaking them for food. With a large amount of the world’s recycling sent to Asia for processing, we need to ensure this doesn’t spill into our beautiful waters, and aim to reduce the amount of plastic sent in the first place. Simpson Marine have formally committed to Plastic Free Oceans, and have supported a number of clean up and educational schemes in Hong Kong, including WWF’s Coastal Watch, which has undertaken a hugely successful clean-up of our coastline, sea surface and seabed.

However, with a third of all ocean plastic coming from the sea itself, mainly due to spilled cargo and fishing waste, it is essential that superyachts are part of the solution, not the problem. The long-established MARPOL rules exist to prevent pollution from ships, with annex V citing the complete ban of dumping plastic into the ocean, however the reality is that we need to go above and beyond these regulations to protect the marine environment we all love. With the majority of existing initiatives focused on the issue of land-based plastics entering the oceans, it is up to the yachting sector to demonstrate the gold standard of sea-based plastic management. Therefore, at the start of 2018, Simpson Marine signed an official pledge to promote a Plastic Free policy with our owners and crew, at the same time as substantially reducing our own single-use plastic across the company.

Since then we have seen plastic free and eco-friendly movements gain momentum, with yachting based initiatives such as the Clear Oceans Pact gaining more support, as well as a growing number of ‘green’ superyachts on the market that employ new technologies, from hybrid engines to solar generators to reduce their environmental impact. Even on traditional vessels, small changes can make a big difference, with the Clear Oceans Pact recommending a number of changes that superyachts can introduce. These easy but effective solutions include the exchange of single use water bottles and toiletries for reusable containers on board, swapping other single use plastics for sustainable alternatives, and filtering and disposing of washing machine microplastic waste safely.

Here at Simpson Marine we believe, now more than ever, that yacht owners, charter clients, captains, crew and brokers can lead the plastic-free revolution our oceans need. We encourage all our clients to reduce their impact on the environment and minimise their contribution to the problem of ocean plastics, and feel hugely positive about the change we have seen so far. We are proud to play our part in preserving our beautiful oceans for future generations of both humans and marine life to enjoy, and invite you all to do the same.

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