MA’ALAEA (MAUI), HI – Testing new H2O generators that use mineral water to dramatically improve fuel economy and reduce emissions from vessels; providing reef-safe sunscreen – free of charge – to snorkeling guests to protect coral reefs; using locally-produced products wherever possible, including all-natural, hormone-free Maui Cattle Co. beef and eco-friendly liquid cleansers made by Maui Pure Island; these are just some of the steps taken by Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures to make its ocean tours and vessels as eco-friendly as possible.
Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures, described in a 1995 article in The Maui News as “doing ecotourism before anyone else knew what to call it,” has continued to find more and more ways to “go green” over the years . A complete list of these eco-friendly steps can be found on a downloadable PDF file at http://www.pacificwhale.org/news/news_detail.php?id=397.
“We are a creative and energetic group of people, always looking for ways to become more eco-friendly,” said Brooke Porter, conservation director at the Pacific Whale Foundation. “For example, after we calculated how much fossil fuel was being expended for a laundry service to drive back and forth to the harbors each day to pick up and deliver towels and rags to our boats, we decided to invest in new water-saving and energy-efficient laundry machines to install in our Pacific Whale Foundation office in Ma’alaea.”
“We’ve reduced our fuel consumption and also are saving money,” said Porter, adding that, “the eco-friendly approach is often the economical choice as well.”
Another eco-friendly yet economical step has been to lab test engine oil from the vessels, to precisely determine when changes are needed. “We’ve found that we’ve reduced the frequency of oil changes and use less oil in our vessels – and fewer used oil filters go to the landfill,” said Porter.
Protecting wildlife is of utmost importance at Pacific Whale Foundation. Sound-deadening vessel hulls and oversized mufflers help protect sound-sensitive wildlife. Whale Protection Devices (the first in the nation for commercial-sized vessels) gently guide whales away from propellers and running gear. Laser Range Finders are used by the captains to ensure accurate compliance with Federal and State whale-approach laws. And vessels are required to use established moorings (not anchors) to protect coral reefs.
When Pacific Whale Foundation acquired some new additional space for its offices, the choice was made to “go green” in as many ways as possible in outfitting the new space. The lights throughout the new office are LED lights, which are up to ten times more efficient than incandescent lights and have a 15 times greater service life. Efficient low flow toilets in the bathrooms use 1.1 gallons per flush, saving 5,000 gallons per year, per toilet compared to a 1.6 gallon toilet. A waterless urinal saves up to 40,000 gallons per year, reducing sewage and maintenance costs. The floors are of natural cork, harvested from sustainable and renewable cork sources. Even the ceiling tiles are composed of 80 percent recycled materials and are 100 percent recyclable.
“We even did away with an old office standby – the water cooler – choosing instead to install a filtering system for tap water,” said Porter. “This removes the need for bottled and delivered water.”
Pacific Whale Foundation’s eco-friendly approach has earned it the 1999 “Investing in the Environment” Award for small business, in a statewide competition held by Island Business Magazine, and a place on Islands Magazine’s “Blue 100” list of the 100 top ecofriendly adventures on Earth. Pacific Whale Foundation has also earned the title of a “Reviewed Member” of the Hawaii Ecotourism Association.
Located on Maui and established in 1980, the nonprofit Pacific Whale Foundation has the mission of promoting appreciation, understanding and protection of whales, dolphins, coral reefs, and our planet’s oceans. They accomplish this by educating the public – from a scientific perspective – about the marine environment. They support and conduct responsible marine research and address marine conservation issues in Hawaii and the Pacific. Through educational ecotours, they model and promote sound ecotourism practices and responsible wildlife watching. To learn more about Pacific Whale Foundation, visit www.pacificwhale.org or call 1-800-942-5311.