#humansofyachting – Sara-Jane Skinner

Sara-Jane Skinner

#humansofyachting – Sara-Jane Skinner

Sara-Jane Skinner

#humansofyachting

#humansofyachting – Sara-Jane Skinner

Sara-Jane is head of partnerships at Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), a charity which aims to place at least 10% of the world’s oceans under protection by 2020, and 30% by 2030.

By Dominique Afacan | 25 July 2019

“I was brought up in Wiltshire, but many of my childhood summers were spent in Kent, where some of my extended family lived. Our granny would take my sister, cousins and me down to the shingle beach in Dungeness, armed with ginger biscuits, jam sandwiches and Ribena, and we’d spend the entire day there, splashing around in the sea, while she sat patiently on the beach. I suppose that’s where my love of all things marine began, alongside numerous snorkeling trips with my father.

When I moved to Asia later in life, I continued to spend a lot of time out on the water. Initially, I lived in Hong Kong, but it was when I moved to Bali that I really witnessed the pure devastation from some of the fishing methods they use. One of the ways they fish is by using dynamite. You see the after-effects from it and it’s just horrendous – the entire ecosystem is destroyed and the coral reefs are turned to rubble. I remember diving once and hearing it underwater; it was completely shocking.

#humansofyachting – Sara-Jane Skinner

Photo: Rory Moore

#humansofyachting – Sara-Jane Skinner

Photo: Rory Moore

When I left Indonesia and came back to Europe, I met up with an old friend who suggested she put me forward for an interview at Blue Marine Foundation. I read up on the charity, watched The End of the Line [the award-winning documentary that led to the creation of BLUE], and then sat down with the chairman at the time, Charles Clover, for what felt like hours. I was completely and utterly inspired by his mind and ambition and what he’d done since writing The End of Line. I guess the rest is history.

BLUE quickly identified that people within the superyacht world would be passionate about marine conservation – after all, they spend a lot of their time out on the water. In 2012, we launched the Blue Marine Yacht Club. We collaborated with Ralph Lauren to design the burgee and had Prince Albert launch the initiative in Monaco on a superyacht. The club has continued to grow and today members gather twice a year in London and in Monaco. It is largely a virtual club but it raises a lot of money for ocean preservation and the members have a lot of influence. It’s always heartening to see yachts flying the Club’s burgee to show their commitment.

#humansofyachting – Sara-Jane Skinner

Solent Oyster Restoration Project

#humansofyachting – Sara-Jane Skinner

Solent Oyster Restoration Project

I have seen a real change in mindset about marine conservation since I joined the charity. I think people now realize the severity of the situation and things in the past few years have become pretty fast-moving. The industry is now speaking to a much younger generation of aspiring yacht owners who tend to think more environmentally-consciously.

All the projects at BLUE have affected me in a certain way, but I have a close affinity to our UK projects, perhaps because I have been to them the most. There’s something about our Solent Oyster Restoration Project which really resonates with me. The Solent used to be the largest European oyster fishery but we now import our oysters from France and elsewhere. We’re looking to restore the population back to these waters and we’ve been putting thousands of oysters down on wild seabeds in protected areas. If it goes well, we’ll be looking to put a million down by the end of the year. There’s something romantic about restoring the British native oyster.

#humansofyachting – Sara-Jane Skinner

Sara-Jane taking part in London to Monaco

#humansofyachting – Sara-Jane Skinner

Sara-Jane taking part in London to Monaco

We have a few new projects coming up which are being supported by the money we raise through London to Monaco, a charity cycle ride launched by BLUE and our long-standing partner Winch Design. One of them is in Namibia, where we will be helping to protect the Namibian Islands’ Marine Protected Area (NIMPA), Africa’s second-largest marine reserve. Another is in Cyprus, where we’re working with fishing communities to create healthy marine reserves and restore fish stocks.

I will be taking part in the cycle ride for the fourth time this year. The changed route will go through the Spanish Basque country and over the Pyrenees – there are seven days of cycling all in all. It should be really fun. There’s something special about sharing a tough physical and mental challenge as a group. The collective determination is incredibly powerful – and knowing that you are all doing it because you are passionate about our ocean and marine life and the future of our oceans is rather special.”

Get a taste of the superyachting good life at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show from 30 October to 3 November 2019. Get your tickets here.

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