As the Mua Voyage canoes sails south from the Gold Coast with their message on oceans and climate change, three Pacific Island political leaders have confirmed they will be on board the canoes when they sail into Sydney Harbour.
The Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Hon. Henry Puna, the President of Kiribati, His Excellency Anote Tong, and the President of Palau, His Excellency Tommy Remengesau, will join the crew for the final sailing leg into Sydney Harbour for the opening of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014. The Government of New South Wales will provide an official welcome to the voyage upon its arrival in Sydney.
The presence of the Cook Islands, Kiribati and Palau leaders gives official backing to the voyage’s message about people, oceans and climate change. It asks the world to appreciate the global significance of the Pacific Ocean space in a climate-challenged world. It seeks partnerships and commitments to help protect the great ocean and sustain the Pacific Islands for future generations and for the health of the planet.
The three leaders are taking significant steps to protect the natural environments of the Pacific, with each committing to establish some of the world’s largest marine protected areas. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati covers 408,250 square kilometres and is the largest and deepest UNESCO World Heritage site in the world. The Cook Islands is establishing ‘Marae Moana’, a marine park covering 1.1 million square kilometres. Palau has committed to protecting 80% of its exclusive economic zone – approximately 500,000 square kilometres. The collective commitments by the three leaders are among the most significant protected area commitments in the world.
The three canoes from Cook Islands, Fiji and Samoa left Gold Coast yesterday, where they had been officially welcomed by the City of Gold Coast upon their arrival last week. The fourth canoe of the voyage, from New Zealand, received a similar welcome in Norfolk Island. The four canoes will unite to sail into Sydney Harbour together.
The 22-metre double-hulled canoes have journeyed more than 5,000 nautical miles so far. The next stops on the voyage are Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Port Stephens and Botany Bay, before the arrival into Sydney Harbour on Wednesday 12 November 2014.