From the Captain's Chair: Keep Moving with Forward-Thinking
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show
With summer winding down and Labor Day just around the corner, we’re turning our full attention to the biggest event on our calendars – the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. FLIBS has been – and remains - a cornerstone of South Florida’s economy, drawing tens of thousands of visitors from around the world to the Fort Lauderdale area each year.
This year promises to be no different, even as COVID-19 continues to impact travel and various aspects of daily life. We are being proactive to ensure we deliver another safe event this year, relying once again on the services of Informa Markets to provide a secure environment utilizing the new standards like contactless ticketing system and CDC guidelines.
Additionally, the Marine Industries Association of South Florida is working with the Department of State to overcome the obstacles related to ongoing U.S. border closures. These closures could impact exhibitors from European and other countries at this year’s show due to travel restrictions. We are lobbying hard for a National Interest Exemption (NIE) that would grant approved exhibitors an exemption to the European travel ban currently in place.
Our position in favor of granting the NIEs is logical. FLIBS generates an incredible economic impact to not just South Florida but the global marine industry. With a significant number of vessels being manufactured internationally, potentially restricting that percentage of FLIBS exhibitors from attending inflicts economic harm not just on our industry but the hotels, restaurants, and local businesses that benefit from activity generated by an event of international recognition such as FLIBS.
With the backend of Covid elusive, many global leaders are starting to shift their attitudes towards managing the situation. Herd immunity has proven to be a longer road. Countries are rapidly adopting a “we must live with this” attitude, encouraging their citizens to get vaccinated and adapting in other ways to live with these new circumstances.
Our industry is adaptive and responsive. The economic harm that continued shutdowns and border closures have are known, questionable and not solution driven. We must work together to identify ways to live with and adapt to COVID-19. It is up to every one of us on an individual level to do our part, and this includes getting vaccinated. By doing so can we lead by example and have a seat at the table of solutions.
Ocean Exchange 2021
One such event that highlights the importance of forward-thinking initiatives is Ocean Exchange. This annual, marine-technology and solutions focused event is held each year in Fort Lauderdale and is coming up just before FLIBS on October 24-26 at NSU Art Museum. Reflecting the importance of South Florida as the Marine Research Hub, Ocean Exchange is relocating to our community from Savannah, GA in 2021. Ocean Exchange will operate from South Florida.
This year there were more than 140 applications to fill the 12 competition spots. Local entrepreneur John Loos was one of those applicants. Loos, a Fort Lauderdale native who is Vice President of Clean Waterways, built a prototype barge to clean hazardous water conditions. The concept uses filtration technology, similar to that of home aquariums, in large protein skimmer devices to extract pollutants from the water.
The company debuted this technology in a two-week pilot program on the Himmarshee Canal. There they deployed three of the skimmers to extract blue-green algae, Cyanobacteria, fecal matter, and more from the extremely polluted waterway. It is the goal that these skimmers can successfully be deployed to clean up lakes, waterways, ports, etc. in the near future.
Loos is one of the first South Florida business owners to participate in the competition. If his project wins, he will join the likes of Nicholas Flanders, whose company Opus 12 (now Twelve), won the 2019 Neptune Award and received $100,000. Twelve offers technology that converts carbon dioxide emissions into fuel. Since their win, they have received more than $75 million in first-round investor funding and have established working relationships with companies such as Mercedes, Tide, and special interest from U.S. military branches.
We wish John and his team the best of luck at this year’s Ocean Exchange competition.
CEO & President