13 Sep, 2019

Joanna’s love of the ocean drives sustainable jet ski business


Sustainability champion Joanna Kristoffersen spent much of her childhood living on a yacht off Mooloolaba so it’s no surprise that she has a strong affinity with the ocean.

The iJetSki business owner has spent countless days exploring local waterways, instilling a deep passion for taking care of our oceans and rivers.

Joanna wears a few hats - a scientist with majors in biotechnology and medical microbiology, Joanna works full-time at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. A prolific researcher, Joanna is also involved in research with the University of the Sunshine Coast where she has developed a rapid diagnostic test for detecting Hendra virus in horses. Somehow, Joanna also manages to squeeze in managing iJetSki, a jet ski service centre and showroom at Maroochydore.

Reflecting on a year as sustainability ambassador for the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network, Joanna has shown that any business owner, regardless of their industry, can implement sustainable practices - and bring others on board along the way.

A carefree young life on the ocean

Moving permanently onto the family yacht at the age of one, Joanna tells of a carefree young life where she and her siblings would travel to primary school in a dingy. School holidays were filled with sailing adventures to Moreton Island and beyond.

“We lived on the yacht for ten years. There would always be somewhere cool to go, it was such an adventurous lifestyle,” Joanna said.

“I learned to love and respect the ocean from an early age. We rescued a lot of seabirds that had become tangled in fishing line. I found it quite distressing to think that people would pollute the ocean in that way. We had to be self-sufficient and conscious of waste we produced and where it went.”

Fast forward to nine years ago and Joanna was working and studying, longing to get back on the ocean. She contemplated buying a yacht but the prospect of needing a crew every time she took to the water didn’t appeal so Joanna bought a jet ski instead.

“I quickly became obsessed,” she said. “It’s so easy to access the water. I get home from work, duck down to the ramp and head out for a ride within minutes. It’s freeing, relaxing, and a great way to start or finish the day.”

When the main local jet ski shop closed down, Joanna was faced with having to take her jet ski to the Gold Coast for servicing. A gap was identified in the local market and she opened a service centre at Kawana with her partner. They soon moved to bigger premises alongside the Maroochy River at Kuluin, offering repairs, servicing and a large showroom.

Sustainability in business

Joanna’s commitment to sustainability at iJetSki is persistent yet practical, initially focusing on the quick wins before moving to other more challenging adjustments. To date, iJetSki has implemented a range of measures including:

  • Reducing paper use by moving to electronic communications and invoicing
  • Phasing out single use plastic bags
  • Composting food waste and recycling where possible
  • Using shredded paper for packing orders instead of bubble wrap
  • Finding ways to reduce or eliminate plastic use
  • Reducing water and energy consumption
  • Supporting local beach clean-ups.

The biggest challenges so far have been with postage and single use consumable items.

“Many of the cost-effective postage options use plastic satchels but we try to use paper and cardboard packaging. Single use consumable items are problematic in both the business and my research work. It takes extra time and effort to consider alternatives or reuse where possible.”

Joanna says while it can seem overwhelming for businesses to take those first steps towards sustainability, we can all play a part.

“We aren’t perfect but we are constantly striving to improve. We can all have an impact if we start with simple things and implement one change at a time,” she said.

Joanna’s top 3 tips for business sustainability
  1. Involve your staff members and customers to amplify your impact.
  2. Learn from the experiences of other businesses; share your successes and challenges.
  3. Embrace technology to save paper, reduce travel and cut energy use.

How to jet ski sustainably

Joanna is an advocate for protecting our waterways and says there are many things that jet ski riders can do to help.

The iJetSki team regularly reminds customers to be conscious of the different zones for boating activity, especially in Moreton Bay (see Moreton Bay Marine Park User Guide). Designated zones with guidelines for use help to protect biodiversity and breeding habitats.

People on jet skis are required to stay 300 metres away from whales as well as follow other whale watching guidelines, including not approaching a whale from directly in front or behind) see Moreton Bay Marine Park for details).

Other ways that jet ski riders can help:

  • Slow down to 6 knows in rivers to reduce erosion
  • Be aware of other go-slow zones especially in rivers
  • Always keep an eye out for marine life
  • Don’t carry items such as plastic bags that can blow away and pollute the water
  • Pick up any pollution you see in the water and on the beach
  • Call your friends out if they are polluting.

Joanna Kristoffersen was awarded the 2018 Sunshine Coast Sustainable Business Woman of the Year for her work as a change maker in our community.

Do you know someone who is doing great things to make our communities more sustainable on the Sunshine Coast, Redlands or Moreton Bay regions? We would love to share their story! Please send the details to sustainability@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.

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