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August 17, 2012

Spreading a Message of Hope

Seru Saumakidonu

Crewmember Seru giving shark presentation in his village. Photo: Simon AgerCrewmember Seru giving shark presentation in his village. Photo: Simon AgerBeing a volunteer for the past 5 years has really taught me a lot and opened up my mind. From sailing traditionally on our vaka, Uto Ni Yalo, to joining the Sea Shepherd crew on the Brigitte Bardot, which is a dream come true. We are like-minded for sure. I have been involved with our locally managed marine reserve in my village for the past 5 years and for me to have the opportunity to share this experience with Sea Shepherd and the people of Vanuatu is something that I always wanted to do. Advising our people of the South Pacific about the importance of marine protected areas (MPA’s) is important work.

Travelling through Vanuatu, I was able to talk to people from villages and schools who were very supportive about our awareness campaign. As most of them didn’t know about MPA’s, I was able to share with my community the personal benefits we have gained from our Marine Protected Areas in my village of Kubulau in Vanualevu, Fiji.

In the beginning, most of the villagers had raised eyebrows when we suggested protecting the reefs and limiting our fishing on them because they knew little about our reefs. And they didn’t understand it would soon stop providing if we didn’t look after and protect our ocean. It has been an eye opener to all of them and now they know the importance of saving sharks and also saving our reefs. Our reefs are healthy, our fish abundant, and our village is content – even receiving fees from the marine reserve. This is the story I am able to bring forward and inspire others to do as our village has. If all of us were able to do what we did, the ocean would be a different place.

With Sea Shepherd conveying another of our messages about the importance of sharks and their role in the marine ecosystem, it has caused the people of Vanuatu and Fiji to think twice before polluting our ocean or killing sharks. Instead, we are convincing them to act locally to protect our ocean and help save our sharks. And not to be scared of them!

We are the only creatures on the planet with the power to alter the way the world works and we are the only one’s able to understand and solve the problems we have caused. One of the simplest and most important actions we can take is to restore and protect our living ocean.  I am so happy I have had a chance to spread that message to other South Pacific nations – and carry the success of my village’s MPA forward.