Exclusive Interview: Warren Baverstock, Burj Al Arab Aquarium
Founded in 2004, the World Responsible Tourism Awards allow people the chance to celebrate the heroes and share the stories of the most exciting and enduring responsible tourism experiences in the world.
Burj Al Arab Aquarium just won the silver award for ‘Best contribution to wildlife conservation’.
The best contribution to wildlife conservation category is awarded to a tourism business or initiative that has had measurable success in preserving and managing habitat and wildlife species. The focus of best contribution to wildlife conservation is on holiday providers, whether tour operators, accommodations or conservation organisations, which have, through tourism, achieved measurable wildlife and/or habitat conservation objectives. Initiatives might include wildlife watching experiences, nature trails, places to stay or other holidays which otherwise benefit wildlife and habitats. The judges wanted integration of great holiday experiences with progressive and sustainable programmes in wildlife and habitat conservation, measures of success and ideas which could be adapted and developed by tourism providers around the world.
The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) is based at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and Madinat Jumeirah and is run in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office, with essential veterinary support provided by the Dubai Falcon Clinic and the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory.
The project has been running in its current form since 2004 and has so far seen the release of 1089 rescued sea turtles back into Dubai’s waters. In 2011 alone over 350 sick or injured sea turtles have been treated by the DTRP after being washed up on the regions beaches. The DTRP is currently the only project of its kind in the Middle East and Red Sea region.
The project was started after the need for a turtle rescue and rehabilitation facility was realized by the Wildlife Protection Office – after stranded turtles started to be brought in to them. The main goals of the project are:
- Rescue, rehabilitate and release back into the wild any sea turtles that are found sick or injured throughout the region.
- Educate local children, citizens and international hotel guests about sea turtle biology and the local and global plight of the sea turtle.
- To understand the success of rehabilitation and to research turtle movements throughout the region and beyond via a satellite tracking initiative.
We interviewed Warren Baverstock, Aquarium Operations Manager at The Aquarium & Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project at The Burj Al Arab to find out more.
The Burj Al Arab Aquarium recently won a World Responsible Tourism Award. In 140 characters (a tweet) or less – why do you think you won such an important award?
I think we won the award due to the results of our project; to date, we have released 1089 turtles back into the wild, I think that’s impressive.
What was the driver for creating the Burj Al Arab Aquarium specifically – what gap does it fill?
The aquarium is an integral part of the hotel and the hotel’s original build and design. It occupies quite a large area of hotel space but the purpose is purely for display and for people to look at and enjoy.
Who is the Burj Al Arab Aquarium primarily for?
The aquarium is for guests of the hotel, we have two impressive tanks in the lobby known as the ‘Wing’ tanks that anyone entering the hotel can enjoy. We also have the ‘Oval’ tank in Burj Al Arab’s signature restaurant ‘Al Mahara’ that is specifically for guests of the restaurant to enjoy and also we have two exhibits set within private dining rooms for a more intimate experience.
What difference does the Burj Al Arab Aquarium, and all associated environmental activity want to make?
Some of the aims of the aquarium are to make a contribution to scientific research and conservation. Over the years we have contributed to science related to shark reproduction, fish breeding and of course, sea turtle rehabilitation. All these things make a difference to understanding and ultimately protecting our marine environments.
What are the barriers to making that difference?
We don’t face many barriers, maybe raising awareness of the project would be one of our biggest challenges. We have a lot of support for our project and, I think people are happy with our achievements and can see a measurable outcome which is always a positive thing.
Who’s helping you overcome those barriers?
Certainly, social media has had a huge impact in raising awareness of the project and what to do when a person finds a turtle. I am very proud of my team, our partners, our supporters and what we have achieved together.
Is the tourism sector doing enough to deliver a sustainable travel and tourism?
Awareness of a hotel’s environmental contributions are increasingly important to travellers. I think the tourism sector is uniquely placed to successfully contribute to sustainability and conservation around the world; this is an important responsibility for any good hotel.
Ocean Awards 2017 Winners Announced
The winners of the second annual Ocean Awards, hosted by Boat International Media, the international authority on super-yachting, in partnership with the Blue Marine Foundation, have been revealed.
From the development of whale drones and virtual chase boats to the banning of shark fishing and absolving the Seychelles’ debt crisis, each finalist was celebrated for their outstanding contribution to the health of the oceans from every corner of the world.
Land Rover BAR, the yacht racing team founded by four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie, leads the list of winners honoured for their passion for improving the oceans, along with Palau’s former UN Ambassador for the Oceans and Seas, the late Stuart Beck. Professor Daniel Pauly and Dr Dirk Zeller – whose monumental study of the world’s fish catches for the Sea Around Us project took the media by storm – are also among those recognised for their efforts in advancing marine conservation through policy initiatives, new innovation and campaigning.
The awards, which are in association with Y.CO, were judged by an esteemed panel chaired by Charles Clover, executive director of Blue Marine Foundation. Also judging the awards were: Sir Charles Dunstone, co-founder and former chairman of Carphone Warehouse and chairman of the TalkTalk Group; Ben Goldsmith, CEO of Menhaden Capital, a new green-focused investment trust; and Charlie Birkett, co-founder and CEO of Y.CO, the challenger brand of the global superyacht industry.
Sacha Bonsor, editor in chief, Boat International Media, said: “Boat International Media is committed to fixing one of the world’s largest solvable problems – the crisis in our oceans. We are delighted to have built a platform of recognition for the outstanding organisations and individuals working towards improving the health of the oceans. Our inspirational nominees and winners are driving awareness and implementing the change that can save our oceans, and they should all be immensely proud.”
Charles Clover, executive director, Blue Marine Foundation, said: “Studies show that although the oceans are now under serious threat, with decisive action their resilience and carbon absorption can be improved and overfishing reversed within 20 years. There are still huge challenges ahead but the work of our winners is promising, motivating and worthy of celebration. This is one area of conservation where we are winning.”
Adrian Grenier, actor and founder of the Lonely Whale Foundation, who was also shortlisted for an Ocean award, said: “The biggest threat to our oceans right now is non-action. Our oceans are resilient but only if we take collective steps towards protecting and rebuilding them. We need to protect 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030. Today, we’ve protected just three per cent. We have a long way to go but I’m ready for the challenge and the opportunity to engage a new community of environment leaders.”
Helena Christensen, model and environmentalist, said: “I have huge respect and admiration for the sea. There is hardly anything more magical; its power is infinite and ever-changing. Ocean life depends on a thriving coral reef and we are destroying it.”
Full list of winners: Ocean Awards 2017
Seafarers’ Award: Ben Ainslie Racing, Land Rover BAR
Local Hero Award: Dennis Bryan Bait-it, Project Sharklink
Innovation Award: The Nature Conservancy
Responsible Business Award: Industry Group Agreement to Cod fishery in the northern part of North-East Atlantic
Policy Award: Claire Nouvian, Bloom
Public Education Award: Ian Urbina, The New York Times
Visionary Award: Stuart Beck, UN Ambassador for the Oceans and Seas
Science Award: Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller, Sea Around Us, the University of British Columbia
The Seafarers’ Award, which celebrates an individual or group from the seafaring community that has made the biggest difference over the past year to advance marine conservation, went to Land Rover’s Ben Ainslie Racing partnership. Known as Land Rover BAR, the movement was driven by Dr Susie Tomson and inspired the British America’s Cup sailing team’s sustainability strategy. The team is recognised for its project to bring back native oysters to southern British water and ‘say no to single use plastic’ campaigns while using technology sustainably via ‘virtual chase boat’.
The Local Hero Award was picked up by Dennis Bryan Bait-it of Philippines-based Project Sharklink. A co-founder of Project Sharklink, Bait-it has worked to enhance the benefits of diver tourism to his local community. He was also recognised for bringing together local fishermen tasked with protecting Monad Shoal, the only place in the world where it is possible to dive with thresher sharks, by patrolling waters and reporting illegal shark fishing activity.
The Nature Conservancy created a groundbreaking marine investment model when it brokered a debt swap between the government of the Seychelles and its Paris Club creditors, restructuring the Seychelles’ debt in exchange for a commitment by the 115-island archipelago to invest in marine conservation. This innovation provides a model for other small island developing states and saw the Conservancy awarded the Innovation Award.
The Industry Group Agreement to cod fishery in the northern part of Northeast Atlantic won the Award for Responsible Business. This follows the statement made by industry bodies including fishing unions, fleets, supermarkets and processors not to trawl for cod in the waters around Svalbard and up to the North Pole until evidence showed no harm would be caused. McDonald’s Corporation played a major role in convening industry stakeholders around the question of protecting vulnerable marine habits in the Arctic. Other members of the group include the Norwegian Fishing Vessel Owners Association, Tesco, Young’s Seafood Ltd and Marks & Spencer.
Claire Nouvian was awarded the Policy Award for her work with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, leading to the EU to pass a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling in June 2016. Nouvian founded BLOOM in 2005, waging a campaign to highlight the damage caused by such practices.
Investigative journalist Ian Urbina was selected as the winner of the Public Education Award for his Outlaw Ocean Series, published in the New York Times between July 2015 and February 2016. Urbina travelled across 14 countries and five seas to bring the extent of lawlessness on the oceans into the public eye, encouraging criminal prosecutions and alerting governments to the enormity of the problem. There are now plans for a Netflix film of the series produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Following a visit to Palau to study coral reef preservation in 1976, Stuart Beck became a passionate supporter of the island nation, helping it gain independence, and later becoming its ambassador to the United Nations. Beck, who died last year, was honoured with the Visionary Award for his work in establishing Palau as one of the strongest advocates for marine protection on the world stage. Beck is succeeded in his role by his wife Tulik.
On the 19th January 2016, Nature Communications published a study by Prof. Daniel Pauly and Dr Dirk Zeller, which showed that over the past 60 years the global fish catch had been about 50 per cent greater than official estimates suggested. The study, based on 10 years of collecting data, resulted in substantial media attention and is encouraging many countries to improve their monitoring of fisheries, control and enforcement approaches. Pauly and Zeller were awarded the highly coveted Science Award.
Switch2 Energy Awarded Trio Of International Management Standards
Switch2 Energy, district heating specialist, has received the ISO 14001:2015 environmental and OHSAS 18001: 2007 health and safety accreditations, which have been integrated with the company’s existing ISO 9001:2015 quality management system to mark a triple achievement.
The company was supported through the process by FPA Consulting, and LRQA, which recommended Switch2 for the double certification following a five-day audit process.
Kirsty Lambert, Managing Director, Switch2, said: “We have always had robust management systems and processes, but we now have a fully integrated management system that combines the world’s best environmental, health and safety and quality ISO standards.
“We have undertaken a rigorous business improvement and assurance process with professional support from FPA and LRQA and are very proud to have achieved a trio of ISO accreditations. These standards are at the heart of our strategy and operation, and are crucial in supporting the ongoing growth of our business.”
John Barke, Managing Director, FPA Consulting, said: “Congratulations to Kirsty and the team. They have worked hard to maximize the benefits that ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 can bring, in particular around customer service, satisfaction and managing business risk which is critical to their business resilience.”
Yorkshire-based Switch2 Energy has more than 35 years experience of smart metering and billing for the community energy and district heating sector. The company remotely manages and monitors its smart meters from its UK customer service centre, which offers complete billing and administration services to more than 430 heat networks and 70,000 homes.
Further information: www.switch2.co.uk