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First International Congress of Ocean Sailing and the Environment

by Nancy Knudsen on 29 Dec 2010
International Congress on Ocean Sailing and the Environment SW
This week one of the the world's great races has taken a big step in leadership and for the environment. The Barcelona World Race (departure 31st December) is holding the first International Congress of Ocean Sailing and the Environment in the last few days leading up to the departure, 28-30 December.

The Congress intends to provide an overview on ocean sailing and the role of oceans in climate change. Distinguished representatives from different sectors of Ocean Sailing and the Marine Environment, including national and international governments, non-governmental organizations, universities, boat builders, designers, new technologies and skippers, are attending and taking part.

Beginning with a tribute to Eric Tabarly for his influence on the evolution of ocean sailing, the conference will then pass through a discussion of the role of the modern racing yacht and the skipper before getting on to the question of the state of the world's oceans.

Entitled 'Space of Competition - The Planet Sea', it is a discussion on the future of the marine environment, the protection of the oceans and the effects produced by climate change. During the conference the speakers will also inform and assess the results of the Climatic Change Summit in Cancun in November/December this year.

The congress will attempt to:
Make a worldwide appraisal of marine environmental status and how to contribute to the sustainability of the oceans.
Evaluate the crucial role of the oceans in understanding climate change.
Understand the relationship of warming global, underwater currents and the melting of the icecaps.
Consider States’ roles in combating climate change.
Establish the balance of the International Year of Biodiversity.
Consider social awareness of climate change

Speakers are a world line-up of environmental scientists and international authorities.

Remi Parmentier, the Executive Director Varda Group is also known as the founder of Greenpeace International, and has spent 35 years championing the environment in a number of high profile roles.
Hugo Morán, Environment Federal Secretary for the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, and holds environment portfolios
Mario Rodríguez is current Executive Director Greenpeace in Spain
Gordon Hamilton is a Glaciologist and Professor of Climate Science at the Climate Change Insititute of the University of Maine
Maria Hood is the project coordinator for the the Global Ocean Ship-based Repeat Hydrographic Investigations Program, involved in the improvement of the global ocean observation system.
Luis Valdés is the Head of Ocean Sciences at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO

The session will be hosted by Tomàs Molina, a meteorologist and journalist with several books published on the environment.

The conference poses some vital questions:

What is happening to the sea? Are we taking good enough care of it?
What needs to be done to conserve marine biodiversity?
Is the sea, as some people think, a limitless dump about which we need not worry?

Can anything be done by sailors and, particularly, by Barcelona World Race, or is it beyond our responsibility
and more a matter for high-level official organisations?
Can we remain committed to essential sea trade without filling the sea with plastic, containers, oil and other waste?
Could waste (ageing of the fleet) cause a problem for the development of the nautical industry? Should it be
regulated a lot more?


The responses to be found in the multidisciplinary perceptions of speakers from the authorities, civil movements, supranational organisations, science with their extremely representative range of knowledge will result in the 'Barcelona Declaration', which will contain a summary of the agreements and proposals discussed during the congress. This will be disclosed at the closing ceremony.

According to Greenpeace, as a symbol of the declining environment of the ocean, 90 percent of the world's large predator fish stocks are gone or 'in trouble' and 90 percent of exploited fish stocks in the European Union are 'in trouble'. So the conference provides a fitting prelude to the beginning of the race and it's commendable to see racing sailors taking a leading role in these vital matters.
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