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Captain’s Chair: Why taking care of our waterways should be a top priority February 13, 2015

Our waterways are our lifeblood and currency of our community. The area’s waterways are the avenue in which we work and play, and they play an important role in our quality of life. That’s why we want them to be clean so everyone in both the marine industry and our community as a whole can enjoy them.

So on March 7, we’ll be hosting our 38th Annual Broward County Waterway Cleanup, the largest and longest-running environmental event in the county. Last year, nearly 1,700 volunteers of all ages by land and 70 boats worked at 30 locations at waterways, rivers and canals across the county to remove 17.9 tons of trash and debris. This year, we will return to many of those same sites as well as some new ones, including several in northern Broward County, as we partner with the Marine Industry Cares Foundation.

Thanks to events like the Waterway Cleanup, each year we have seen a decrease in the amount of trash in our waterways, which underscores how important it is that we continue to raise awareness and get the message out about keeping our waterways clean.

Soon there will be other ways we can be environmentally responsible, also.

Feadship just launched the 83.50-metre Savannah, the world’s first ever hybrid motoryacht, which is 30 percent more fuel-efficient than comparable vessels of its size. The 273-foot vessel’s eco-friendly power source blends a single diesel engine, three gensets, batteries and azimuting pioneering electro-mechanical propulsion platform.

“It is not the individual technologies used on Savannah that are new in the yachting world – it is the way they have been combined,” the owner’s project manager, Ted McCumber, told Superyacht Times. “The possibility to choose between diesel, diesel-electric or fully electric is truly exceptional.”

The technology allows for quiet cruising at low speeds on battery power, and provides extra speed when going flat out with less demand on the engines.

As the use of electric engines increases, whether in boats or cars, and more people incorporate them into their lives, we will see more manufacturers propose this type of project.
And in instances where our waterways may be threatened, such as oil spills, there is research underway on how to protect the fragile marine ecosystems. Scientists at Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center in Dania Beach are monitoring how corals will react to various grades of oil and gasoline. They will then test how corals react to oil dispersants, and use that information in case of a disaster similar to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The Florida Reef, which runs from the Keys to Martin County and is 170 miles long, is the only coral barrier reef in the continental U.S. and the third-largest reef system in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef and the Belize Barrier Reef. The reefs, which provide food and shelter to various kinds of fish, are a critical part of the marine ecosystem, and they are vital to our tourism and recreational boating industry.

Also this month, I will be meeting with state leaders in Tallahassee to discuss various issues affecting the marine industry. Unemployment in Florida is at 6 percent and our marine industry has an abundance of jobs, so Chris Hart, the head of CareerSource Florida, and I will discuss how we can lower that number. I’ll also meet Will Seecombe, the new head of Visit Florida, to discuss ways to help brand the area as an international marine hub in addition to tourism and tech, and meet with Bill Johnson, the new head of Enterprise Florida, to discuss marine industry economic development opportunities.

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Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 2312 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. Phone: 954.524.2733