Every member of the Bertarelli family has always had an affinity for the sea. Fabio Bertarelli, a keen sailor himself, had his children taking charge of dinghies and then yachts from an early age. A passion for sailing was born in both Ernesto and Dona, who today are still on the water at every possible opportunity.
This connection with the oceans is why the family’s Foundation is seeking to become a leader in global marine conservation. Having seen first-hand the way that our marine environments have changed for the worse over the past twenty years, the family is committed to helping change perceptions and behaviour. As well as direct sponsorship of no-take marine reserves, the Foundation has commissioned research to prove just how urgent action on our seas has become.
The Foundation sponsors the world’s largest marine reserve in the Chagos Islands, in the Indian Ocean and has done so since 2010, when it entered into a partnership with the British Government. Covering a protected area of some 210,000 sq. miles, the no-take reserve that bans commercial fishing is helping to protect what has been described as the most pristine topical marine environment on the planet. Precisely because it so pristine, the Chagos archipelago is a hugely important region for marine science, offering the potential to act as an ocean observatory and as a place where new research can be conducted to find out more about the protection afforded by Marine Protected Areas, as well as the health of the wider Indian Ocean system. The Bertarelli Foundation is actively involved with this work.
In 2012, the Foundation also supported the creation of a marine reserve centred around the Turneffe Atoll in Belize, which is the most sizeable fragment of the largest and most biodiverse coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere. Part of the 900km-long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS), home to an incredible number of plants and animals. It is considered to be one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.