On a voyage to save our seas, local superyacht M/Y Beluga has been bestowed ‘Yacht of the Year’ in Boat International’s Ocean Awards for 2021.
Awarded recently in Sydney, the coveted accolade in its first year, acknowledges the boat’s owners and crews’ efforts to survey and protect the marine ecosystem as part of the Great Reef Census.
Beluga was entered by charter management company, Ocean Alliance and the submission highlighted the owner’s commitment to ocean conservation and pioneering the way forward for the superyacht industry, embodied by Ocean Alliance as ‘Yachting for Purpose’.
The superyacht was used by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef’s scientists who completed necessary surveys, testing of new equipment, and piloted research and development which supported the inaugural Great Reef Census to become a pioneering and scalable approach to assessing reef health.
Ocean Alliance’s Managing Director, Joachim Howard said this award represents a clear example of how owners and charter guests can participate in the monitoring and preservation of the marine environments they are experiencing.
“Ocean Alliance partnered with Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, several years ago with a combined interest to connect the superyacht industry with citizen science initiatives such as the Great Reef Census.
“When in 2020 a vessel was required to assist with testing new technology ahead of the first census, it was only natural for us to approach Beluga as the owners are actively involved in ocean conservation.
“We would like to congratulate Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and the owners and crew of Beluga for their leadership in marine conservation and their positive contribution to the very region in which they charter,” said Mr Howard.
Beluga Captain Peter Lacey said he was happy to get involved with the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef because they have a good chance of collecting enough tangible evidence to give us a reasonable picture of the current conditions of the reef.
“I personally don’t see any damage that’s noteworthy during my voyages, of course the reef is so vast and constantly changing so to date no one individual or entity is capable of covering it entirely.
“Based on that, I view with some scepticism the blanket reports of the Great Barrier Reef being in danger and I fully support the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef efforts and thank the owners of Beluga for gifting the use of the vessel to assist.
“I hope other vessel owners and crew will be encouraged to participate, it really is quite an easy process and adds another interesting conversation piece to our charters,” said Mr Lacey.
Beluga’s passion and willingness to support marine conservation extends beyond Australian waters to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to include supporting a turtle sanctuary in the Conflict Islands, Take 3 for the Sea, and supporting the production of conservation documentary, ‘Blue’. These are not activities removed from their charter season yet integrated into the guests’ experience whilst on charter.
“Our charter guests are looking for yachting experiences with deeper meaning and Beluga is the leader in this field.
“Involvement in the Great Reef Census is easily incorporated into an itinerary and we would encourage charter guests, crew, and owners, to participate,” offered Mr Howard.
Beluga is a 34.7M custom-built Moonen explorer-style motor yacht built in 2006 and last refitted in 2011. She was built as a go-anywhere yacht with a robust elegant style.