YachtAid Global (YAG) is well known throughout the yachting world since its 2006 launch. Over the years, superyachts working with YAG have provided humanitarian aid and disaster relief all over the globe, truly embodying YAG’s tagline: Changing the world without changing course. In total, more than 300 vessels have worked alongside YAG on 250 projects in 25 countries.
Now, YAG is partnering with Tahiti Private Expeditions in the South Pacific to grow their efforts on their global Operation Swimway conservation initiative. “Obviously disaster relief was a big part [of YachtAid Global], but conservation is something we all need to protect our oceans,” says Steve Jackman, YAG Communications & Marketing. “So we’re always seeking out like-minded individuals in the areas that our clients are cruising.”
YAG’s Operation Swimway is working to get more conservation projects on the go around the world and partnered with Tahiti Private Expeditions on a shark identification endeavor that ultimately resulted in 10 sharks being tagged in waters surrounding French Polynesia with the help of a superyacht in the area. Operation Swimway also has operations ongoing in Mexico and the Galapagos.
The idea of Operation Swimway is to provide an “immersive and educational” experience for both yacht owners and charter guests as they focus on “the conservation of critical migration corridors for sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, and billfish,” a recent press release stated. Guests on vessels participating in Operation Swimway are able to work alongside scientists, possibly help with dives, operate underwater equipment, tag, measure, and learn conservation methods and science.
Some of the challenges faced in the conservation field come from a lack of knowledge. As Jackman explains, “There’s just such little knowledge about the migratory routes. Our ultimate goal is obviously to protect [these species] but also to start recommending preferential areas to give them the space to let them reproduce and recover,” he says. But until we know more about their habits, it’s a challenge to know exactly how best to protect them.
...“At this point, the more we can educate ourselves and learn and really invest in the science, [the better] it’s going to benefit our world in the long run.”
“I think it’s also nice to show that some [yacht owners] really care,” says Christelle Holler of Tahiti Private Expeditions. “Some of them really want to use what they have to make a difference. And just one [yacht] owner can make such a huge difference.”
As Jackman points out, the oceans have been at a teetering point for years now, and we’re running out of time to make effective change. “From the garbage islands to not just the sharks but to other species we’re losing,” Jackman says. “I think there needs to be an effort put forth to start making a difference. At this point, the more we can educate ourselves and learn and really invest in the science, [the better] it’s going to benefit our world in the long run.” This is step one to start inspiring others to make changes, he hopes.
You can help — check out their information online and perhaps your vessel may be in place and willing and able to continue their work. Or if you can’t make it work that way, you can donate at: yachtaidglobal.org/campaigns/operation-swimway.