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July 5, 2012

Operation Requiem Begins

By Julie, Campaign Leader

Soloman Islands Honiara Vaka's arriving

The campaign has officially begun! On June 24th, 2012 the Brigitte Bardot left Australia bound for the South Pacific. After a relatively uneventful crossing, she and the crew arrived, with a pod of playful dolphins as a welcoming committee, at the capital city of the Solomon Islands, Honiara.

We chose the Solomon Islands as our first stop for two very important reasons. First, we have partnered with the Pacific Voyagers Society to help spread their message of culture and conservation – finishing a momentous three year, 20,000 mile journey here in the Solomon Islands. Second, the Pacific Festival of Arts, which happens every four years, is being hosted here – and draws thousands of people from around the world. The theme? Celebrating the oceans of course.

We’ve been incredibly busy these last few days serving as ambassadors, not just for the sharks, but for Sea Shepherd as well. Our arrival caused quite a buzz, everyone eager to determine why our ship was sitting in the harbor. Not least of which, I am sure, the Taiwanese contingency, who we've been told have recently invested $20 million dollars into the country (and are proud sponsors of the arts festival) for the majority of its tuna fishing rights.

With a huge mission on our hands, we are focused on establishing the relationships necessary, gathering information, and determining what it is going to take to help the South Pacific and its amazing people take back their sharks.

Last night, we had the opportunity to present our mission for the first time to a delegation of 300 from more than a dozen island nations.  To hear and see the faces of the crowd as we pledged our support to their environment, their heritage, and their future, I knew that while we are up against the odds – we have the grassroots support of the people of the Pacific.  At that moment, I realized the road may be a long one, but together we can succeed. After all we share the same goal - to create a safe place for sharks to recover and flourish – ensuring that generations of Fijians, Tahitians, Solomon Islanders, Palauans, Cook Islanders, Samoans, and everyone in between will know a healthy ocean full of sharks for generations to come.

Soloman Islands Honiara Bardot War Canoes

Soloman Islands Honiara crowds greet Vaka's