IUCN Oceania has had a close relationship with the Fiji Islands Voyaging Society (FIVS) since its inception in 2009, to the point that staff have been aboard the Uto Ni Yalo (the FIVS flagship) on several occasions, and one staff member joining a sail to Savusavu as a crew member.
It seemed only fitting that when the opportunity arose in late 2010 to broaden the environmental outreach programme to include other voyaging societies, IUCN Oceania was a part of the team that developed, drafted, and submitted a proposal to the Packard Foundation to kick-start the process.
The Pacific Voyagers’ Network, comprising voyaging societies from 10 countries in the Pacific, will set out on a Pan-Pacific voyage from New Zealand to Hawaii in April, calling in at Fakarava and Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia on the way. IUCN Oceania continues to play a role with the network, the culmination of staff involvement being the coordination of a week of ‘environmental messaging’ sessions with 4 of the 7 vaka crews participating in the voyage.
The sessions aim to equip the crews with information on various Pacific Ocean issues ranging from invasive species to marine pollution, ocean acidification to ocean noise. The voyage presents excellent opportunities for crew to interact with communities and interested groups during the various port stops, giving them an opportunity to share their personal experiences and observations while sailing. The outreach programme is to be further supplemented by monitoring of ocean conditions, observations of rubbish/debris, as well as marine wildlife (birds, whales, dolphins, fish, etc) that the vakas pass while sailing to their next destination.
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