Loggerhead Marinelife Center works with local businesses to create sustainable, ocean-side restaurants.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center works with local businesses to create sustainable, ocean-side restaurants.

Blue Table Restaurant Program 

There’s no better time to recognize our Blue Table Restaurant Program (BTRP) community partners than during Plastic Free July! Our Center is grateful for our community partners that work with us to make this program a success. Since its launch, the BTRP has served as a bridge between local restaurants and the marine environment by implementing environmentally-friendly changes that have lasting, positive effects on the world’s most valuable resource: the ocean. The program has helped local Palm Beach County businesses, adjacent to the 9.5 mile stretch of beach that LMC monitors for sea turtle nesting, implement proper practices to become sustainable restaurants. Such changes and practices include the reduction and elimination of  plastic and Styrofoam in participating restaurants as well as utilizing sustainable seafood and local produce options. 

Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar & Store in Jupiter joined other local businesses in becoming a group of sustainable restaurants through Loggerhead Marinelife Center's Blue Table Restaurant Program.
Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar & Store in Jupiter joined other local businesses in becoming a group of sustainable restaurants through Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s Blue Table Restaurant Program.

Community Partners Lead the Way

In 2019, LMC removed over 49,230 foam plastic pieces, 2,907 plastic straws, 6,576 plastic wrappers, 2,203 plastic bags, and 1,347 plastic utensils from the marine environment through its conservation efforts. While personal use of these items add to the problem, single-use plastic to-go items in restaurants potentially play a role in these items ending up in the ocean. Through the BTRP, we provide restaurants the opportunity to work with our Center to create sustainable changes, as well as, recognize and promote sustainable restaurants.

A free program, the BTRP works in collaboration with local businesses to protect the ocean by creating and enhancing sustainable restaurants. When a restaurant joins the program, they are taking a stand against the current plastic problem while also becoming a part of the solution. BTRP partners are recognized on a map on our campus for visitors to see in addition to the Center’s website, social media and newsletters. Additionally, partners are given a window sticker to assure customers that the restaurant is devoted to sustainable practices. Our conservation team provides direct, hands-on assistance and guidance in implementing plastic-free changes to streamline the process. To highlight our community partners, we regularly share reports of the program’s efforts and achievements in preventing marine debris from entering our ocean. 

Our current partners include:

Blue Table Restaurant Program sustainable restaurants opt for eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics and styrofoam items, which are commonly used in restaurant settings.
Blue Table Restaurant Program sustainable restaurants opt for eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics and styrofoam items, which are commonly used in restaurant settings.

Eco-Friendly Initiatives Create Change

Several issues pose threat to the health of marine life and our natural ecosystems, including plastic pollution and overfishing. To combat these issues, our Center collects and analyzes data, then creates initiatives and programs to help reduce these threats. The BTRP works with local businesses to create sustainable restaurants that focus on sourcing sustainable seafood and reducing their use of single-use plastics and styrofoam.

Unfortunately, plastic pollution continues to pose a threat to the health of our ocean and the life that inhabits it. Researchers have estimated that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean with over 8 million tons of plastic entering the ocean each year. This marine debris is often accidentally ingested by marine life, like sea turtles. Our Center has even discovered that nearly 100% of post-hatchlings that arrive to our hospital have ingested plastic. By reducing the amount of plastic and styrofoam used in restaurants, we reducing the amount of marine debris that enters our ocean where it poses a threat to marine life and ultimately ourselves.

A Blue Table Restaurant Program partner, Hog Snappers Shack & Sushi provides customers with eco-friendly straws and drink stirrers as a way to reduce the amount of plastic offered in their restaurant.
A Blue Table Restaurant Program partner, Hog Snappers Shack & Sushi provides customers with eco-friendly straws and drink stirrers as a way to reduce the amount of plastic offered in their restaurant.

Overfishing is another prevalent issue facing the health of our ocean. When a species of fish is removed from a body of water at a rate that the species cannot replenish, it results in those species becoming underpopulated in that area. Currently, this is one of the biggest threats to the health of ocean ecosystems. Thus, sustainable seafood has become increasingly desired by restaurant goers. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program defines sustainable seafood as “seafood from sources, whether fished or farmed, that can maintain or increase production without jeopardizing the structure and function of affected ecosystems.” In other words, sustainably-sourced seafood does not have negative effects on its environment. Through the BTRP, restaurants are provided with ample resources to find and sources sustainable seafood, as well as local and seasonal produce in Florida. Our Center event works with restaurants to develop new, sustainable menu items, such as Hog Snappers’ Lionfish Ceviche.

While LMC’s mission is to promote conservation of ocean ecosystems with a special focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles, our Center also recognizes the impact plastic and other marine debris has on humans. Seafood is the largest traded commodity in the world with over 3 billion people relying on it as their main source of protein. When marine life is affected by the toxins or diseases connected to pieces of debris, humans are too. Our Center strives to create programs and initiatives that help create a healthier environment for all life. By becoming a sustainable restaurant through our BTRP, local restaurants can lead the way in ocean and marine life conservation and become a part of the solution to save our seas.

Carve Surf and Coffee adopted Loggerhead Marinelife Center's Blue Table Restaurant Program in the early phases of the program.
Carve Surf and Coffee adopted Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s Blue Table Restaurant Program in the early phases of the program.

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Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is a nonprofit sea turtle research, rehabilitation and educational institution that promotes conservation of ocean ecosystems with a focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. The Center features an on-site hospital, research laboratory, educational exhibits and aquariums, and also operates the Juno Beach Pier, which hosts world-class angling and sightseeing. Situated on one of the world’s most important sea turtle nesting beaches, Loggerhead Marinelife Center is open daily and hosts over 360,000 guests free-of-charge each year. The Center’s conservation team works with 90 local and international organizations across six continents to form partnerships and share conservation initiatives and best practices that are core to its mission of ocean conservation. The Center is expanding and has launched its Waves of Progress capital expansion campaign, designed to accelerate and amplify LMC’s conservation and education impact. For more information, visit www.marinelife.org or call (561) 627-8280.

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Conservation Contact:

Katie O’Hara

Conservation Manager

561-627-8280, x107

kohara@marinelife.org

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