Breaking News:

Sustainable Practice with the Fremantle Sailing Club Marine Environment Committee

With the sport of sailing relying so heavily on the beautiful waterways nearest and dearest to us, it is no surprise that sustainability is a key focus for many in our community. As part of Sustainability Month at Australian Sailing, they will be highlighting some key sustainability initiatives from around the country this September.

With over 3,000 members participating in a range of activities offered in twelve different ‘sections’ of the club, sustainability is core to the Fremantle Sailing Club (FSC) who believe that better, more environmentally-minded choices will encourage better outcomes. The winner of the 2022 Australian Sailing Sustainability Award, the Marine Environment Committee (MEC) is a fantastic case study in the impact and success of sustainable practice and innovation.

Roger Swainston manning the MEC stand at the FSC Open Day, with the ‘ghost net’ capturing marine creatures

First established in 2014 as a subcommittee within the FSC Cruising group, the MEC was created with sustainable practice in mind. By 2017, the FSC recognised sustainability as a priority for the club as a whole, so extended the MEC to be an administrative committee which reported and advised the Board.

In its first few years of operation, the MEC focused on their members’ actions, encouraging re-use, reduce and recycle through promotional materials and the hosting of the annual ‘Treasures of the Bilge’ maritime jumble sale. The Committee also organised the club’s Big Beach Cleanup at Woodman Point, encouraging members to come down and do an hour’s pickup along the beach or in the case of the divers, under Ammunition Jetty. This was an important first step, as the MEC now note that even when the water looks clean, there’s always items and rubbish to collect!

FSC Treasures of the Bilge

Fast forward to 2023, the FSC and MEC now team up with both nearby Jervois Bay Sailing Club as a venue for regular sausage sizzles, and with Tangaroa Blue to provide information on marine debris to members and to enter the results of the collection into the Australian Marine Debris (AMD) database.

The MEC also use the AMD database to record the results of their annual harbour cleanup done by local divers and support crew. The rubbish collected is assayed before disposal, and the MEC is pleased to note that they have seen a continuing reduction in waste collected over the years. The diver who finds the most bizarre object – this has ranged from air compressors to wedding cake dolls – is awarded the ‘Oscar’, an award named after the Sesame Street character, of course.

Another MEC initiative is to host a ‘bar talk’ for World Oceans Day (8th June) every year. These relaxed sessions allow people to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat, with the MEC encouraging the Chef to offer a sustainably sourced special for attendees to enjoy whilst listening to speakers and presentations. Recent presentations include speakers such as Jon Sanders and his team following the ‘No Plastic Oceans’ circumnavigation, Nate and the crew from ‘Expedition Drenched’, and this year, Micheal Wear talking about Tidal Moon, the sea cucumber and seagrass projects in Shark Bay, and the involvement of the traditional owner’s in developing this industry.

Tidal Moon present on World Oceans Day

FSC members attend the World Oceans Day bar talk

In 2020 the MEC convinced the Board that the Club should participate in the ‘Containers for Change’ scheme that the State Government was launching, and after a few hiccups at the start with bins being misused, the Scheme has been a steady earner. The MEC uses the funds to encourage ongoing ‘better choices’, including the ‘Smallest Footprint’ awards for both the 2021 and 2023 Exmouth Race and Rally. The award goes to the most sustainable trip in each of the race and rally divisions, considering boat preparation, catering, fuel consumption and disposal of rubbish at the Exmouth end.

Containers for Change delivered to the depot by Rear Commodore of Sail, Steve Parkinson

The MEC also has a more holistic focus on practices at the Club, continually reviewing and redeveloping their Environmental policy. The Committee has some members with expertise in the area of environmental science, who have provided advise to the Board in relation to wastewater management and marina water quality. As areas of the Club are targeted for refurbishment, the MEC is campaigning for integration of enablers of sustainability – more water bottle fillers, improved bike parking, an electric bike charging station powered by solar panels and more.

The FSC and MEC are very excited to have recently joined the Yachting New Zealand Clean Clubs program as a pilot participant. Whilst the Clean Regattas program has a focus on events, the ‘Clean Clubs’ program places an emphasis on the organisation and its integrated practices, including supply chain and use of technologies. Since joining, the MEC have changed their approach to waste management with respect to food waste and recyclables as well as maintaining their ‘Containers for Change’ initiative.

For more information visit