Navigating Yacht Sustainability: Insights from Palm Beach 2024

The first annual Sustainability Seminar gathered environmental advocates and yachting industry experts from a variety of disciplines during the 2024 Palm Beach International Boat Show to outline tangible steps for ocean preservation.

Day Two of the 2024 Palm Beach International Boat Show opened with a deep dive into the topic of sustainability and ocean conservation in the yachting industry. Hosted jointly by SeaKeepers, the Water Revolution Foundation, and Ethical Yacht Wear, the first annual Sustainability Seminar sought to inform and educate press, crew and members of the yachting industry on the latest tangible environmental initiatives and steps currently being implemented throughout the industry.

Andrew Doole, president of the U.S. Boat Shows division of Informa Markets – manager of the Palm Beach International Boat Show – opened the seminar with a joint update with Informa Markets Director of Sustainability and Operations Cristiane Uhlig Fernandes on Informa’s plans for current and future boat shows, which include discouragement of single-use plastics, water bottle refilling stations, docks constructed of recycled plastics, recyclable collection, use of renewable electricity and community give-back programs. Spearheaded by the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County – owner of the Palm Beach International Boat Show – the show this year has established a Give-Back Fund that will provide grants to nonprofit organizations in Palm Beach County with environmental and marine education programs.

“We have a lot of work to do in this industry,” said Robert van Tol, Executive Director of the Water Revolution Foundation. “But everything is about collaboration. We all need to collaborate to tackle the environmental impact throughout the entire industry.” Through collaboration, the Water Revolution Foundation focuses on the dual pillars of awareness and neutralization of the industry’s environmental impact. Van Tol went on to describe several current initiatives underway with leading yacht builders including Heesen Yachts, which include the Yacht Environmental Transparency Index, a joint industry project centered around data sharing and collective research with the goal for effectively measuring the impact that large yachts have on the environment.

Heesen has taken this initiative one step further with its own BlueNautech program, which focuses on each area of its large yacht construction from the sustainability perspective, from hull and propulsion efficiency to energy savings, sustainable operations like electric-powered tenders, recycling and alternative materials and sustainable production methods.

Sustainability has been at the core of Heesen’s innovative evolution and is inherent in the design of its yachts. The simple premise that less weight equals less displacement lends itself to hull efficiency and forms the foundation of its aluminum construction methods, patented Backbone hull design and continuous developments including Hull Vane technology.

“We have been able to gather a lot of interesting data already,” explained Van Tol, citing the areas of hotel load and HVAC that can be addressed in tandem with the obvious propulsion methods to mitigate consumption. The Water Revolution Foundation has also established Environmental Crew Guidelines as a checklist for consumption mitigation actions crew can take on a daily basis as well as ocean mapping efforts to track and record marine mammal living and breeding grounds.

Tony Gilbert, Chief Program Officer for The International SeaKeepers Society addressed attendees with an update on the variety of initiatives and programs underway with the organization, which has been bridging the gap between the scientific community and the yachting industry for decades. From the elimination of single-use plastics and the use of reef-safe sunscreen lotion and other tips in the org’s Green Guide, to its Discovery yacht program, which places scientists and research groups aboard yachts operating in a desired area of research; to the Citizen Science initiative and its Seabed 2030 program – a UN-based initiative for mapping the ocean floor – the Neuston Net Research Collective for collection of plankton; and eDNA water collection programs.

“We have the luxury and responsibility to research solutions,” said Lauren Wardley of Ethical Yacht Wear, which offers the full complement of ethical and environmentally conscious onboard products from cleaning to crew clothing. “Sustainable yachting may sound like an oxymoron, but it is our responsibility to reduce our impact on the oceans.”

“We have to reduce our environmental impact,” cited Van Tol. “A healthy ocean is required for us to breathe and to sustain life on this planet.”





Mark Cavendish   Chief Commercial Officer

| Robert Drontmann   Sales Director

Heesen Yachts North America

Thom Conboy   Agent North-America, Mexico, Bahama's & Caribbean