Barcelona Boat Show launches with onus on sustainability

Record number of exhibitors at 58th edition of international fair that this year focuses on "care of the marine environment"

Some of the boats on show at the Barcelona Boat Show in Port Vell (by Aina Martí)
Some of the boats on show at the Barcelona Boat Show in Port Vell (by Aina Martí) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 9, 2019 06:19 PM

Hybrid vessels, solar powered boats, innovations for collecting underwater microplastics, and sailing products made from recycled plastic were all on display on Wednesday with the opening of the 58th edition of the Barcelona International Boat Show.

Until October 13, this year's boat show focuses on sustainability and environmental awareness for the care of the marine environment, while featuring a record number of 290 exhibitors and more than 700 boats, of which 180 will be in the floating exhibition.

The focus on sustainable sailing as a major challenge facing the industry is reflected in the fair by the frontline presence of hybrid and solar powered boats, as well as meetings on the issue, such as the 'Let's take care of the sea' conference.

"We are at the start of a trend, but it's the future, and sailing will become sustainable, like other sectors," Artëm Loginov, head of the Volta company that sells hybrid boats, told the Catalan News Agency, although he added it is a transformation that will take time.

One of the reasons for this slow pace is the expense of sustainable boats, with prices rising to as high as 240,000 euros, although Loginov insists that "an electric boat is not only clean and silent but incurs fewer expenses in the long run."

Boats that clean up while they sail

At a starting price of 150,000 euros, the electric, solar-powered boats from La Bella Verde company are not cheap either, but they are unique as they include a net that floats at depths of up to 40 meters and collects plastic.

Set up by Dutch people but based in the Balearic Islands, the firm's cofounder, Marteen Bernhart, says "the first time you bring up the net and see it's full, you don't believe it." Manufacturing began just last year and the boats are only now going on the market.

Bernhart is a believer in sustainable sailing and says the technology needed to transform the sector exists now. "Sailing has to move forward," he says, before explaining that La Bella Verde's next project is to create boats made of materials that can later be recycled.

Meanwhile, the GPAseabots firm is showing off a buoy that can clean up microplastics. Sales Director, Adrià Fradera, explained that the 3,000 buoys on the Catalan coast could use their system, which can remove up to 250 microplastic fragments a day.

As for the sustainability minister, Damià Calvet, who was at the show's opening, he said the new Catalan law on ports will be ready next year, and that the new legislation will give a central importance to "environmental aspects."