New England Boatworks was officially named Rhode Island’s largest Clean Marina in a ceremony held on May 5 at the company’s Portsmouth facility. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Volvo Ocean Race Skipper Charlie Enright, R.I. Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit, and other community leaders joined the ceremony to applaud the company’s achievements and talk about further steps NEB is taking as an environmental steward.
Grover Fugate, executive director of the RI Coastal Resources Management Council, presented the Clean Marina award to NEB Owner Tom Rich. The CRMC is the organization that coordinates the Clean Marina Program, a voluntary initiative designed to reward marinas in Rhode Island that go beyond regulatory requirements by applying innovative, pollution-prevention practices to their daily operations.
“The Clean Marina designation is reserved for Rhode Island marinas that demonstrate exemplary environmental leadership,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Congratulations to New England Boatworks on earning this distinction, which is proof of the company’s commitment to going above and beyond what is required to protect our bay and oceans.”
One of those steps that go above and beyond is New England Boatworks’ decision to work with Clean Ocean Access to install a Trash Skimmer at its fuel dock. The Skimmer, made possible by funding from 11th Hour Racing, both reduces marine debris and generates awareness about the types of debris found in the water. Two identical Skimmers placed in nearby Newport Harbor collected over 6,000 pounds of debris in only four months
Team Vestus 11th Hour Racing Skipper Charlie Enright, who grew up only five miles from NEB, has sailed around the globe and has seen the depth of the marine-debris problem and its impact on marine life.
“Let me tell you first-hand about some of the things I have seen,” Enright told the crowd. “I can tell you that marine debris is everywhere – and if we don’t do anything, it is going to continue to persist … Today, with the introduction of this new Trash Skimmer, we have the opportunity to start chipping away at a global problem right here, on a local level.”
By competing in the next Volvo Ocean Race, which begins in Spain in October 2017, Enright and his crew have a perfect platform to tell race-followers around the world about the importance of building a more sustainable future.
According to Dennis Nixon, director of R.I. Sea Grant who emceed the program, there are now 24 states and many countries that have Clean Marina programs. The Ocean State and its boating industry started the inquiry about marinas and their coastal environment over 40 years ago.
With many marinas built on the bones of old commercial shipyards, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association back in the early 1970s approached Sea Grant about studying the relationship between marinas and the coastal environment.
What resulted was a seminal study by Scott W. Nixon published in 1973 called the Ecology of Small Boat Marinas where the author applied the principles of science to do a year-long study of Rhode Island’s Wickford Cove, looking at the areas that had marina development and those that were untouched. A second study done in Rhode Island in 1978 (The Environmental Impacts of Marinas and Their Boats, by G.L. Chmura and N.W. Ross) furthered the discussion before Clean Marinas become a movement in the 1990s.
New England Boatworks is Rhode Island’s fifth and largest Clean Marina — and both its size and diversity make earning this designation a commendable achievement. The NEB facility spans 28.75 acres of land and 8.5 acres of boat basin and includes a boatbuilding division that produces custom sail and power yachts; a full-service marina that offers long-term and transient berths for yachts along with complete refit and repair services; and a haul-out, storage, and service facility.
11th Hour Racing Strategic Director and Co-Founder Jeremy Pochman and Clean Ocean Access Executive Director Dave McLaughlin also spoke at the event. The entire NEB staff donned green shirts and joined the ceremony.
For more information on the Clean Marina Program, visit www.crmc.ri.gov/marinas.