Endowment fund to support Ascension islanders and protect surrounding oceans

Recently, Peter Lürssen, CEO of German yacht-builder company Lürssen Yachts, has donated £2 million (€2,381,153) that will help Blue Marine Foundation to protect Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, and support the islanders.

Lürssen has been a key donor to Blue Marine foundation for several years and has assisted in the growth, from a team of six in a single room in Somerset House, to 30 worldwide.

Clare Brook, CEO of Blue Marine Foundation, said, “Peter’s support has been completely invaluable. In the past years he has helped fund our core costs. Often in NGOs, people give money for specific projects but no one actually pays for you to keep the lights on.”

Ascension Island is located in the South Atlantic Ocean; the British overseas territory supports a population of 700 across 10km.

Brook, explained, “What is most interesting is the 441,000 square kilometres of surrounding ocean that belongs to Ascension, which is part of Britain’s ocean estate. To put that size into context, it is an area bigger than Germany.

“The area is home to an unusual amount of bio-diversity – thanks to the undersea volcano, the bed is extremely nutrient rich and therefore attracts huge sharks, swordfish and sailfish. It is also the second largest nesting sight for green turtles in the Atlantic.”

Due to the level of biodiversity, the area is susceptible to human disturbance. Brook continued, “The large amount of tuna attracts a lot of fishing vessels using huge lines with thousands of baited hooks to catch as many as possible, but also lots of other creatures and rare species in the meantime. The by-catch list read is like an episode of Blue Planet!”

Blue Marine Foundation persuaded the British government to close half of Ascension’s waters to long line fishing vessels, although the other half has still been left open. Ideally, locals want to see their waters completely protected but they rely mainly on the income from the sale of fishing licences to Japanese and Taiwanese vessels paying to fish in the still open areas.

The singular stream of income to the locals at Ascension Island is the £20,000 charged per vessel per fishing season, and were selling multiple licences. However, this is detrimental to the ecosystem by eliminating millions of pounds of fish. The endowment provides an annual income of £100,000, and to support community funding. This was the only option to protect surrounding waters without penalising the islanders, and brings the total coverage protected to 32% of the British waters.

The generosity of Peter Lürssen is a shining example of how one individual can make the world of difference towards a nation, and its environment. This should provide inspiration for other members of the superyacht industry.

For more information, visit Lürssen Yachts and Blue Marine Foundation. Sign up to our newsletter to get the best of Yachting Pages delivered direct to your inbox every month.

Source: Superyacht News

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