More than a business, it’s a movement for the environment

Posted on Nov 18 2021
Salty Skin Pacific’s latest release, a long-sleeve rash guard, has “Keep our oceans healthy” printed on the back.

Salty Skin Pacific’s latest release, a long-sleeve rash guard, has “Keep our oceans healthy” printed on the back. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Two years ago in August 2019, Joe Villacrusis and James Lee bested seven other entrepreneurs at the Pitchfest with an idea of an apparel line that would not just represent water sports enthusiasts and fishermen in the CNMI, but will also be the first clothing brand on island with sales fully dedicated to ocean conservation. Their company? Salty Skin Pacific.

Villacrusis said the idea came about after they noticed the increasing amount of pollution on the islands, especially in popular beaches and tourist sites. They were jogging along the shoreline from Kilili Beach to Sugar Dock one day and picking up trash along the way—called plogging—when they noticed the amount of trash that they had collected.

“We practically carried multiple bags of trash at the end of our jog. From there we invited other people to partake in picking up trash while they did their run. With the help of social media, we were able to influence others to do the same,” he said in an interview. “We wanted to become influencers, advocates of our environment,” he told Saipan Tribune. “We wanted to share with our community the issues that we felt were not being publicly addressed. So we created Salty Skin Pacific to help us create that awareness.”

True enough, while in the line of selling merchandise, Salty Skin Pacific is more than a business but is a movement.

“Our main goal is to bring awareness and education. A lot of our profit goes to helping events that involve environmental stewardship. We try to get involved with community events that directly benefit our islands and our surrounding oceans,” Villacrusis said.

Salty Skin Pacific sponsored 2020 Miss Northern Marianas Earth Maria Terlaje during her reign, assisting in some of her projects and community events, including her “Save our Beaches” cleanup and tree planting event early this year.

They have also been involved in many of environmental activities on island, whether organized by the government, non-profits, local businesses, and even schools and they are open to partnering with anybody for even more projects in the future.

‘Keep our oceans healthy’

Salty Skin Pacific’s latest release, a long-sleeve rash guard with a design that features turquoise ocean waves, has, right on the back of it, a fitting message: “Keep our oceans healthy.”

Villacrusis said this message is not just about doing beach cleanups; it is also about advocating for more sustainable fishing practices, the protection of coral reefs, and the conservation of endangered species.

For the past three years, Salty Skin has consistently adopted beach sites on island, as part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized here in the CNMI by the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality’s Division of Coastal Resources Management, with Mariana Islands Nature Alliance.

“[The] event is a great way for everyone to see the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle and cleaning up after ourselves. The one thing I like about the ICC is that the community, especially the youth become scientists for a few hours collecting data. The sheets provided logs down every piece of trash collected and how much they weigh,” he said.

Villacrusis shared that they teamed up with Run Saipan and Saipan Community School for this year’s ICC, gathering over 30 volunteers in a “running event” that helped collect trash from a turnaround point all the way to Ladder Beach.

“Salty Skin Pacific was able to provide raffle prizes for those who collected trash along their running path as an incentive. Some of these prizes were kindly donated by Latte Built Gym, Ina’s Kitchen, MARPAC, and some apparel from Salty Skin Pacific,” he added.

Aside from beach cleanups, Salty Skin Pacific also participates in tree planting activities, the latest of which they did at Micro Beach, as organized by Terlaje and Rep. Sheila Babauta (D-Saipan), with MINA and the CNMI Forestry providing assistance. A couple of years ago, they also planted trees at Obyan Beach, hoping to replace the ones destroyed by Super Typhoon Yutu.

“We wanted to make sure that there were enough trees to provide shades for our beach-goers in the future. But more importantly, planting trees near our shorelines can help prevent erosion. Because of climate change and the rising seas, trees play an important role in protecting our lands from sinking into the ocean.”

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Salty Skin Pacific collect trash during the Save our Beaches cleanup and tree planting event early this year. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

‘We all live off the ocean’

Salty Skin Pacific is a movement for the ocean, inviting the community to be stewards of the environment.

When asked why it is important for them to advocate for cleaner oceans, Villacrusis cited three reasons:

First, we all live off the ocean whether directly or indirectly—the ocean provides food, water, oxygen, even the transportation of goods.

“Our land and the environment around us directly affect the ocean. If we don’t have a clean and healthy environment, this will affect the ocean and its ecosystem. Thus, limiting our supply of food, water, and oxygen.”

Second: “We owe it to both our ancestors and our children in the future. Our ancestors left us an abundance of resources for us to thrive. If we can’t take care of our environment, our children will have a hard time surviving.”

Third, the CNMI is a tourist destination. “Marketing our islands as a beautiful place to visit can only be achieved through its clean and pristine surroundings. We want our visitors to have a wonderful experience and share their stories with others that our islands are beautiful and clean, and that we take care of it.”

Villacrusis hopes that the CNMI can adopt something similar to other places like Palau that provides tourists with responsibilities while visiting the islands.

“If visitors see that we don’t care for our islands’ beauty, they won’t care too,” he said. “They need to be educated on these issues. They need to be made aware. We all can and will benefit from advocating for a greener environment and a healthier ocean in more ways than one.”

Salty Skin Pacific’s message is clear and simple—respect our land and ocean.

“We are all connected to the ocean and we all benefit from it. We cannot ignore the issues surrounding climate change, pollution, overfishing, coral reef damage. …All our actions will either positively impact our environment or it could negatively affect it. We are in the business of preserving our islands and our oceans, and getting everyone on board.”

To learn more about Salty Skin Pacific and their advocacy, visit

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at

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