By Angie Mesistrano, Area 2 Commodore of the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians
Most of us are aware of the high levels plastic pollution in seas and oceans that are destroying marine flora and fauna. We might even be aware of the large floating island of plastics in the North Pacific Ocean. We also know how ingrained the use of single-use plastics are in our culture. Without a doubt, it is a big problem, but how do we address it?
The International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians is the oldest and largest of the Rotary Fellowships. It began in England in 1947 and has grown to 126 fleets with nearly 3,685 members. We have fleets in more than 40 countries around the world. We are a group of Rotarians dedicated to promoting all aspects of boating as an opportunity for fellowship and service. Our fellowship is also dedicated to protecting our oceans, and promoting the culture of “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle plastics”.
Our fleets from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Italy and the Philippines are working on developing a program against plastic pollution. We have asked for support from incoming District Governors, and many of them have declared this program of district interest.
We also promoted the program to Rotaract and Interact clubs because we believe that the entire Rotary family should be involved. For this reason, I presented it at the Annual Rotaract – Interact Conference of District 4980. It has drawn lots of interest and participation. The Rotaract club presidents have expressed interest in collaborating because they are aware of the great damage that pollution is doing to the planet. They are spreading the message by presenting the project at their clubs and with their groups of friends.
We are developing a website for this special program and young leaders are taking care of the promotion and helping spread it in their communities, universities, clubs and associations. From these groups, we are identifying young leaders who will help us sustain and strengthen the program.
The oceans produce 50% of the oxygen we breathe and absorb 30% of the carbon dioxide we produce. The program will contribute to the plastic decontamination of the oceans and sea. We will organize beach cleanings, plastic waste collections, meetings to raise awareness of the use of plastics, build strategic alliances with partners and sponsors, and protect marine fauna and flora. We need to help communities understand that it is necessary to change our behavior and use of single-use plastics.
No one can solve the problem of plastics pollution alone, but together we will drive global change.
The International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians strives to advance international understand and goodwill through cruising, yachting, racing, sailing, kayaking and other activities involving boats and boating. The group is one of more than 80 recognized Rotary Fellowships. Throughout the month of June, we’ve been celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.