A social enterprise is retraining the Netherlands’ unemployed youth as Sea Rangers, who will patrol the North Sea protecting marine life. The Sea Ranger Service will enforce fishing regulations, regenerate marine ecosystems and maintain underwater cultural landmarks. The social enterprise will train young people and veterans in maritime disciplines and conservation techniques in a five-week bootcamp, preparing the recruits for careers across the maritime sector.
Results & Impact
The two-year pilot project will begin in summer 2018. The Sea Ranger Service hopes to expand internationally and preserve the world's 6,500 Marine Protected Areas.
Sea Ranger Service, Sea Ranger Ships, more than 40 private partners and NGOs
The Sea Ranger Service, a social enterprise, aims to contract from government, carrying out tasks such as monitoring fisheries, restoring seascapes and ecosystems, maintaining seaweed farms and preserving cultural landmarks below the sea. By carrying out tasks for various departments at once, the Sea Ranger Service will allow governments to save money. In March 2018, the first 80 recruits will undergo a five-week boot camp, through which they will learn maritime disciplines and conservation techniques. Of the 80 chosen for the camp, a quarter will be unemployed youths struggling to reintegrate into the civilian job market. The Sea Ranger Service works in conjunction with Sea Ranger Ships, the organisation’s ship building branch, which will provide the rangers’ vessels.
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Unemployed people, young people
Cost & Value
The Sea Ranger Service expects to raise $1.1 million in its first round of funding, which closes in June 2017, through early investment and startup grants. In the second round, it hopes to raise an additional $815,000 in investment.
A social enterprise is training the Netherlands’ unemployed young people as Sea Rangers, who will patrol the North Sea, protecting marine life and restoring nature reserves.
The Sea Ranger Service, the world’s first fleet of marine rangers, is a Rotterdam-based social enterprise that was formed with the intention of contracting to government.
“Because there’s less of a political commitment to protecting cultural heritage at sea or monitoring overfishing, there is a limited budget for these areas,” said Wieste Van Der Werf, the executive director of the Sea Ranger Service. “Sea Ranger ships can carry out multiple tasks, thereby combining different objectives that normally sit within different departments, allowing them to combine their budgets. Typically, the people working on youth unemployment don’t work on environmental conservation; shipbuilding does not work with charity.”
The Sea Rangers will carry out tasks that stretch across various departments. They will monitor Marine Protected Areas by enforcing fishing regulations and restrictions, testing seascape restoration and ecosystem regeneration methods, inspecting and maintaining seaweed farms and protecting shipwrecks, underwater war graves and other cultural landmarks below the sea surface.
“Suddenly, because you’re linking it with five or six other tasks that cover the operational costs of a boat for a year, governments are given the financial space to make a difference,” said Van Der Werf.
Both the Sea Ranger Service and Sea Ranger Ships will begin operations as pilot projects in summer 2018, for which training will begin in March 2018. The first cohort of rangers will undergo a five-week boot camp in which they will learn different maritime disciplines and conservation techniques. Recruits will undertake daily physical endurance training, such as swimming and diving, as well as safety procedures like fire prevention, first aid and radio communications. Of the 80 recruited for the camp, a quarter will be unemployed young people struggling to reintegrate into the civilian job market. While only 12 will be recruited as sea rangers when training is finished, the skills learned in the boot camp will prepare the recruits for careers across the maritime sector.
The Sea Ranger Service expects to raise $1.1 million in its first round of funding, which closes in June 2017, through early investment and startup grants. In the second round, it hopes to raise an additional $815,000 in investment. The organisation has more than 40 private partners, including a maritime training college and a ship building company. The social enterprise will drive revenue through government contracts for services like preventing waste dumping or illegal fishing within protected areas.
Van der Werf aims to expand the program to manage the world’s 6,500 Marine Protected Areas.
“The biggest challenge for us will be expanding this program internationally – the Netherlands is a small enough network that it works, but it has taken organising in a way that has never been done before to get this to happen. It will be a challenge to mobilise maritime partners, industry and government representatives in different countries like the US, China and Germany, where we’d like to expand. ‘Our biggest challenges will be size of these countries and the huge diversity of partner companies and organisations we need to get onboard to the Sea Ranger approach work. Our biggest challenges will be size of these countries and the huge diversity of partner companies and organisations we need to get onboard to the Sea Ranger approach work.”
The Sea Ranger Service works in conjunction with Sea Ranger Ships, the organisation’s ship building branch, which operates as a separate entity to allow for disparate investment streams. Sea Ranger Ships will provide the rangers’ vessels, which will be constructed at a shipyard called Dry Dock. Sea Ranger Ships has partnered with multiple architects, construction firms and urban developers to build the dock, which will be the world’s first circular economy shipyard. Currently, the rangers are building a 72-foot patrol vessel in Rotterdam.
(Picture credit: Pexels)