A Port Douglas-based yacht has been named International Yacht of the Year thanks to its efforts towards conservation of the Great Barrier Reef.
The 34-metre M/Y BELUGA earned the prestigious title at the 2021 Boat International’s Ocean Awards, which recognises extraordinary commitment to environmental conservation and ‘Yachting for Purpose’.
The impressive achievement is the result of BELUGA’s owners’ generous donation of the yacht to Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef scientists to allow them to complete surveys, research and equipment testing.
The surveys contributed to the inaugural Great Reef Census, which assessed the health of the Great Barrier Reef and its ecosystems.
Skipper Peter Lacey said he was happy to take part in the Census to help collect information on the current conditions of the reef. “The reef is so vast and constantly changing so to date no one individual or entity is capable of covering it entirely.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Ocean Alliance’s Managing Director Joachim Howard offered his personal congratulations to the Port Douglas yacht and its crew.
“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.
“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.”
The Great Reef Census received more than 13,000 images across the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef, up to 40 per cent of which had never been surveyed previously.