Posted on Monday, Jun 25th, 2012

The New York Times recently published an article about the trend in travel companies to use buzzwords like 'eco-friendly,' 'sustainable travel,' and 'green' to attract business, while their operations are anything but! The article recommends thoroughly investigating potential companies and all activities, for what may seem green might actually harm local populations and wildlife. Tourism can bring in much needed money, preservation, and awareness for special places, but when handled improperly, can destroy that which it claims to protect.

The NYT article states, "The best sustainable tourism businesses not only recycle, conserve water and energy, and use locally produced goods, they also hire local employees, support community projects and preserve cultural heritage." We would like to use this blog and explain how, at Sea Kayak Adventures, we are doing just that.

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM: Sea kayaking is inherently low-impact due to the lack of carbon emissions, longevity of equipment, and largely-non-invasive presence. Sea kayaks don’t stir up sediment like a motorized boat, and don’t add to underwater “noise pollution” that can upset marine life. We take this a step further by carefully ensuring our guests are educated about where to land on beaches for minimal impact, and by ALWAYS following whale and marine mammal regulations. We give our guests the best possible viewing experience without compromising the protections of the animals we love.

We leave only footprints (pack out all we bring in). We are honored to have one of the handful of government permits to operate in provincial and national marine parks and UNESCO World Heritage sites. We are the eyes and ears to the governing bodies to ensure the resource is protected. We educate our local guides and our guests about the importance of sustaining and protecting the natural resources for future generations.

CONSERVE WATER & ENERGY: We offset 100% of our tour operations carbon emissions and energy. We insist guests bring reusable water bottles, and carry all of our water in dromedary bags – not plastic containers. We provide solar showers in BC, and ensure soap from diswashing or bathing stays above high tide line. We use sea water wherever possible instead of fresh water, while maintaining strict sanitation. We’ve noticed a disturbing trend among fellow outfitters to use install water heaters for showers and luxury additions to “eco tours,” thus permanently marring the landscape of what was once pristine. Quite simply, when the season is over, we leave no trace.

RECYCLE: In the field, recycling goes without saying. However, our eco-ethics extend to our office. We use recycled materials for office supplies and digitalize more and more material each season to reduce paper use.

HSea Turtle Talk in Magdalena BayIRE LOCAL EMPLOYEES: We use exclusively native guides in both Canada and Baja. We are so proud of our Baja team, who have trained and certified themselves to the same high standards of sea kayak guiding certification (such as BCU), Wilderness First Aid certifications, and English fluency as is required of our Canadian guides. Many of our Baja guides are local from the Loreto and La Paz area, and quite a few are marine biologists. We are so honored to work with the men and women who have the Sea of Cortez in their blood so to speak, from multi-generational fishing families.  Many of our local Baja guides work in the off season with researchers and local fishermen to save sea turtles and their habitat and reduce unintended bycatch by adapting new fishing techniques.

SUPPORT COMMUNITY PROJECTS: We proudly donate to local environmental charities in every area in which we operate. Our Healthy Seas Questionnaires and t-shirt sales programs both help fund such programs. In Baja, we support Eco Alianza and Grupo Tortugero; in Canada we support Save Our Salmon and Adopt a Fry.  We are members of the Gray Whale Coalition, Sustainable Travel International, Idaho Rivers United, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, and many more. Company founders Nancy and Terry give personally to numerous environmental and wildlife causes around the world. We don’t just tout green – we live it.

PRESERVE CULTURAL HERITAGE: Our tours include an emphasis on natural history, including local history when possible. In Canada, we visit First Nations historic sites (where permitted) and encourage guests to visit and support places like the U’mista Cultural Center in Alert Bay. We pay our respects every year to the Kwakwaka'wakw First Nations chiefs or their representatives. In Baja, we offer day tours to explore historic missions (dating back to 1697) and learn about the history of the Baja region. Our guides often give presentations about local holidays and traditions.

A final note: We are always happy to speak with guests in person about our eco practices, and how to visit these remarkable areas while making a low or positive impact. We take pride in ensuring you have a wonderful vacation, with enough “creature comforts” like delicious food, superb guest service and quality equipment so that you can truly relax, yet remain committed to our eco-friendly practices so that generations to come may enjoy these same landscapes and wildlife.