© Dan Abbott / Save The Med

11th Hour Racing Team and Save The Med: a Future for Formentor

Ecology

05/04/2022 - 15:13

11th Hour Racing Team and Save The Med Foundation have launched an innovative partnership dedicated to the regeneration of the marine ecosystem in Mallorca's Formentor area. The grassroots organization works to protect one of the world's most fragile marine environments and has been selected to join the Team's global legacy grantee network. The US-based offshore sailing team will race through the Mediterranean Sea in the first and last legs of The Ocean Race 2022-23, a 32,000 nautical miles (60,000 km) round-the-world race.

"Through our legacy grantee program we collaborate with sustainability champions in the different waters we will sail through in the round the world race," explained 11th Hour Racing Team CEO, Mark Towill. "Our goal as a team is to inspire positive action and long-lasting change for ocean health and thanks to their local expertise and network, our grantees help us identify areas and activities crucial to this mission. Save The Med's work and engagement in the Mediterranean Sea is nothing but exceptional and we are thrilled to support the preservation and regeneration of natural marine ecosystems through this grant."

Formed in 2019, Save The Med works to protect and regenerate the Mediterranean Sea, one of the world's most fragile marine environments which has been significantly affected by human impact.

The legacy grant project will be focused on the Formentor area on the Tramuntana coastline in the north of Mallorca, home to one of the most diverse marine wildlife seascapes in the Mediterranean with over 500 underwater species living in 20 habitats. The open sea of the Cape of Formentor stands out as part of the migration route for marine mammals, tuna, manta rays and other large fish. As a result of decades of overfishing, increased pollution, and mass tourism, a lot of these species are endangered with extremely low numbers.

"The underwater world around the Cape of Formentor is absolutely mind-blowing but this precious natural environment has been wounded and needs time and space to recover," said Bradley Robertson, Save The Med president and co-founder. A passionate diver, Robertson explained how 11th Hour Racing Team's grant will help to preserve the area for future generations. "Save The Med firmly believes that any human-created problem can only be solved by involving this very same species - humans. Instead of imposing rules and regulations that might not be viable in the long-run and alienate island residents who have been depending on fishing and tourism for generations, we have chosen to actively collaborate and support each other."

Over the upcoming 12 months, Save The Med's scientific team will continue to research the coastal ecosystems of the area. In parallel, the organization will work with the local community to raise awareness around the importance of protecting and regenerating the sea. The joint work of NGOs, local experts, scientific researchers, and marine technicians will be the backbone of the project, which promotes the regeneration of the area's marine and terrestrial ecosystem as its "ultimate goal", according to Robertson.

Pioneering a holistic approach to environmental conservation, the project aims to implement a new Area Under Regeneration at the beginning of 2023.

"For two Ocean Race campaigns we have been looking for ways to support the international 30×30 target to protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030. It is, without a doubt, one of the most important things that can be done to protect marine biodiversity today," said Damian Foxall, 11th Hour Racing Team's sustainability program manager. "Our collaboration with Save The Med allows us to play a founding role in setting up a new area for marine and community regeneration, which is a once in a lifetime opportunity. What's more, this local-first solution as proposed by Save The Med could become the blueprint to drive change on a global scale.

"The future of our oceans and humanity's survival are intrinsically linked, which is why we need to consider both natural and socio-economical values when driving change. We look forward to seeing the stewardship provided by the Formentor project unfold," he concluded.

Save The Med Foundation joins 11th Hour Racing Team's global grantee program which also includes Concarneau Marine Station (France), Plant A Million Coral Foundation (USA), and Biosfera (Cabo Verde).

More legacy grantees for The Ocean Race 2022-23 will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

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