Environmentalism and the workboat industry

The recent Copenhagen meetings have put an international focus on an enormous environmental issue: climate change. Clearly, what to do about climate change/global warming is very controversial, even among those who believe it’s a big problem. For those who think it’s a hoax, of course, doing nothing seems to be good enough.

While the response to climate change – and even the concept itself – is contentious, other environmental concerns are much more widely acknowledged and the need for improvement generally accepted.

It wasn’t all that long ago when the water on which we sail was commonly seen as a place to dump whatever crap that needed to be disposed of. I still vividly remember sailing as a greenhorn cook on a halibut schooner out of Seattle back in 1980. On the way north, I collected all galley garbage in plastic bags, which I piled up on the bow, with the intention of disposing into a dumpster in Petersburg, Alaska, our first fuel stop. But when we pulled into Petersburg early one morning, the bags were gone. Turns out that an older deckhand had tossed them overboard during the night as we ran up Wrangell Narrows. (I don’t think he much cared for my cooking, either.)

But that was then and such blatant disregard of the environment is pretty much history now. These days, many boats and the companies that operate them take pride in being better environmental stewards.

And it’s these companies that WorkBoat wants to recognize with our annual Environmental Awards.

At the recent International WorkBoat Show held in New Orleans, we presented awards to six companies for outstanding environmental achievement in two categories: environmental initiatives and comprehensive environmental management plans.

I’m pleased to report that Seattle-based Foss Maritime took top honors in the environmental management plan category, as well as second place in the environmental initiative category for the development of their hybrid tug, the Carolyn Dorothy. Another Seattle tug-and-barge company, Harley Marine Services, took third place. In second place was Crowley Maritime, another operator with lots of Seattle connections.

The first-place winner in the environmental initiative category was Alcatraz Cruises in San Francisco, a division of Hornblower Cruises & Events, in recognition of their development of the Hornblower Hybrid passenger ferry. Third place in this category went to McGinnis Inc., for their environmentally friendly blast-and-paint facility in Ohio.

When reading all the entries for these awards, it was refreshing to see an environmentally positive attitude. These guys weren’t doing what they did just because they had to. They were doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

Congratulations – and thanks – to them and all the others who applied for this year’s awards. We hope to see even more companies submit entries in 2010.

About the author

Bruce Buls

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).

Leave A Reply

© Diversified Communications. All rights reserved.