At sea. Volvo Ocean Race: ABN AMRO ONE’s skipper comments on the environment Print E-mail
Friday, 07 April 2006
Mike Sanderson:


I often try and put little comments into my daily reports about what I feel the effects we as humans are having on the Earth that are visible from out here at sea.

Apart from the obvious ships, which are pretty much non existent in the Southern Ocean, and are now getting more and more frequent at a pretty steady pace until we reach Rotterdam, which I believe is the busiest port in the World, it has been really hard to criticize what's going on. To be honest, I am sure that I have seen less rubbish out here this time then in my previous two laps of the planet.

On my first Whitbread, which was in the ‘93 race, I think it was at the time when there was a lot more pressure put on society to tidy up their act. I remember the guys from the ‘89 race talking about seeing cruise ships dumping there rubbish off the back at night and seeing just a steady stream of pretty much all their waste trailing them through the hours of darkness. Although we didn't actually see this happen in ‘93, I am sure

that maybe the cruise ships wouldn't have been doing it, but I am guessing that a lot of sea going vessels still would have been. To be fair, I also don't recall seeing quite as much rubbish coming off the Whitbread fleet once back in port even as you do today.

So I do actually believe that the seas that we sail in are a lot cleaner then they used to be. They certainly appear to be anyway. What has really taken me aback though, as we have sailed up the coast of South America, are the quantity of fishing boats. Two nights ago we were close enough to the coast to see the shore line lit up, and as you would expect from a such a built up area, there was a fair amount of light pollution. However looking out to sea, if you hadn't had a chart or didn't know that the land was off our port side, it would have been 50-50 as to which side you thought the city was on as there was so much light! The sea was lit up like a big city as far as the eye could see from fishing boats. It really was an un-believable sight. Now I am not a big fish-eating fan, so I am probably a little more sympathetic towards the fish, but this did really look like a full wall of Death scenario.

So I guess my point would be, that if there was one thing that has really stuck out for me so far on our trip around the world, that kind of made me feel guilty, is that the effects we, as a human race, are having on the environment, can be seen even this far offshore. It would be the sheer quantities of fish that must be hauled out of the sea every minute of the day. Surely nature can't keep up at this pace? Well one place I know for

sure it won't be able to is here off the coast of Brazil. I would imagine that any fish getting caught here, of any decent size, will be pretty tough as it will have to have swum from somewhere else...
Last Updated ( Friday, 07 April 2006 )
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