(9:00 a.m. EST) — A $5 million, five-year ocean conservation project was launched today by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The three-pronged initiative to help ensure the long-term health of the oceans includes responsibly sourcing 90 percent of wild-caught seafood and 75 percent of farmed fish served in onboard restaurants, encouraging sustainable tourism at ports of call and reducing the company’s environmental footprint by cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 35 per cent.
Additionally, from today (January 25th, 2016) passengers on ships in RCCL fleet — and its sister lines Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises — will find magazines in their cabins outlining the work of the WWF and information on the new partnership that sets out green goals to be achieved by 2020.
In-cabin TVs will soon include a channel on the WWF, which works in more than 100 countries around the globe.
Richard Fain, RCCL’s Chairman and CEO, made the announcement in Donsol in the Philippines, which is home to a showcase community-based eco-tourism program to protect the local whale shark population, which is one of the highest in the world.
Fain said passengers could play a key role in helping to spread the message and support WWF’s conservation work linked to oceans.
“We visit 400 ports around the world and carry five million passengers a year,” he said. “We already know from talking to passengers that this is the kind of thing they expect us to do.”
Explaining the partnership with WWF he said: “We already employ more than 100 environmental officers as well as scientists and environmental managers. However, we acknowledge there are people out there with far more expertise and knowledge than ourselves, so we wanted to do better than we could do on our own.”
In addition to its $5 million funding, at the event RCCL also made a separate $200,000 donation to WWF Philippines in support of conservation programs in the area, including a project to educate local children about the importance of protecting marine life.
Following the devastation caused in the Philippines by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, RCCL donated $1 million to the relief effort and a further $400,000 was raised by crew members and guests. A total of $200,000 was kept aside for a long-term project, resulting in the donation for the education scheme.
RCCL has an historic affinity with the island nation as it employs 11,000 Filipinos across its fleet which, at 14 percent in total, is the highest single nationality employed by the line.
The launch event, which began with a display of traditional dancing, was attended by representatives from the WWF including Carter Roberts, the U.S. President and CEO, who said: “The threats that are facing the ocean are greater than ever, in the last 30 years, some ocean wildlife populations have declined by nearly 50 percent. If we are going to reverse the downward trends, we must take serious steps to repair, restore and protect the oceans.
“This initiative centers on committing to specific and measurable targets to reduce carbon emissions, increase sustainable sourcing and build destination stewardship; and second, comprehensively engaging millions of travelers to learn about the ocean and then act to help save it.”