Citizen Sea, NIs first Boat Based Environmental Charity

Action Areas: Biodiversity & Nature/ Circular Economy/ Biodiversity Loss

Citizen Sea is a key Council partner and we wanted to share their story. 

Citizen Sea was established in 2019 with the aim of inspiring local people and visitors to become stewards of our greatest natural resource and to help create healthier seas and coastal communities.  In 2021 it appointed a Chairman and acquired funding to employ its first member of staff to help manage the growing demand for its services and growing body of volunteers.   

Citizen Sea creates action through education and provides evidence for conservation through engaging people in data collection.

It brings people directly to the sea via its research and education vessel ‘Seabird’ – a beautiful wooden hulled traditionally built ‘Ringnetter’ type vessel.  Originally launched in 1969 from the slipways of her Scottish, Weatherhead and Blackie of Port Seaton, she worked through all seasons until late 2018.  Built from locally grown European Larch planking and Oak frames and keel, she is a true example of sustainability and the use of natural materials. In her new role with Citizen Sea the vessel is adapting to a ‘second working life’. 

Through experiences on board the Seabird people are inspired to learn about the marine environment we sail in and how their actions impact its wildlife.  School and youth groups fish for plankton, identify seaweed and explore environmental issues while on board – in a setting that is so much more exciting than the classroom.

The charity is supported by a growing group of volunteers who are all trained in deck hand duties as well as marine science and climate/ pollution issues. 

Through partnership working with DAERA, Citizen Sea contribute towards data collection for marine protected areas, including the Copelands.  

The charity also organises public events, most recently the ‘International Coastal Clean Up Event’, which saw over 80 people get involved in cleaning more than 24 miles of coastline from Carrickfergus to Bangor Bay.   

Moving forward, the charity will be concentrating efforts on making its vessels sustainable and looking into ways to utilise wind, electricity and solar power.

The oceans are a vital tool in the battle to tackle climate change.  They produce 50% of the oxygen we breathe and absorb most of our man-made carbon dioxide.  Citizen Sea also plans to instigate marine planting activities to restore the seabeds and contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gases.

Men and women on the Citizen Sea boat with a large net of rubbish gathered from coastline and coastal waters,