Jun 04, 2020 Last Updated 12:26 PM, Jun 3, 2020

Rescue on the high seas

SAFETY concerns for inter-island travel in Vanuatu resurfaced last month after passengers on an inter-island ship in Vanuatu were rescued on the high seas after it developed engine trouble and sank. The LC Urata, a self-propelled landing craft was travelling from South Malekula to Port Vila when it encountered problems 25 nautical miles west of Emae in the early hours of 10 January.

Maritime authorities in Vanuatu said it was fortunate that another ship was in the vicinity when the incident happened. All 60 passengers on board and the 16 crew were safely rescued by the MV Young Blood, which was also on it’s way from South Malekula to Port Vila.

The captain of the MV Young Blood, Thompson Alick Enrel, told Islands Business that passengers were relieved when they showed up beside the sinking ship. The stern was submerged and passengers had boarded life rafts when rescuers arrived. All those rescued were disembarked safely when the MV Young Blood docked into Port Vila later that day. 

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DESPITE the passionate plea of a coalition of Pacific leaders, the world’s leading shipping organisation has failed to agree to urgently tackle the industry’s impact on climate change. After a two-week meeting in London last month,the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) agreed to cap emissions of sulphur from ships, which are a cause of air and sea pollution, but on greenhouse gases agreed only to some further monitoring and a fresh round of negotiations.

Campaigners across the world and in the Pacific have condemned the IMO’s lack of urgency on the issue. Potential measures to reduce greenhouse gases have been delayed to 2023, which campaigners said was too late. It was just as anticipated, a collision of the Pacific and the shipping world and sparks flew behind closed doors at the UN negotiations to deliver a climate deal for the industry. While the plea by the coalition of ministers and ambassadors from the the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Fiji, Vanuatu, Palau and the Solomon Islands won some support.it did not change the mindset of the 172-member IMO.

Their submission for the industry to make radical emissions cuts to align the sector’s emissions with a global target to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels was supported by France and Belgium and other IMO member states including those from the EU, UK, Canada, Bangladesh, Bahamas, Scandinavia and NZ.

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WHILE US President Donald Trump has his head in sand on climate change, shipping cannot afford the same luxury and must act to cut back on greenhouse emissions. More importantly for governments and shipping companies in the Pacific, whose livelihoods depend on the people they serve, and whose lives depend on the actions they take to address this very real threat in the islands.

The outcome of the International Maritime Organization negotiations showed why Pacific island governments must stay focused on the issue of decarbonisation of the shipping industry. In the first two parts of this series, Pacific-based experts showed how island governments must adopt some lessons from our traditional past. Colin Philp, whose sail design powered the Na Mataisau, an inter-island ship in Fiji in the 1980s with a proven 30 per cent fuel savings record, said island governments must seek changes at home while waiting on the world to adjust.

“Whilst it is sad to hear that the IMO has not had the determination to make a serious commitment to reduce harmful emissions, we in the Pacific must not wait for international conventions or policy changes,” said Philp,now the president of the Uto Ni Yalo Trust, which advocates for a clean ocean and suatainable sea transportation

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Moana meets the real McCoy

HAWAIIAN actress Auli’i Cravalho, famed for her voice as Moana in the hit animated Disney movie, which features The Rock, Samoan Dwayne Johnson, was caught in the shadows of a real ocean princess when she turned up to welcome home the Hokule’a.

Cravalho was introduced to Fijian sailor Iva Vunikura, a former South Pacific Games gold medallist powerlifter and Fijiana rugby player - who sailed on the ocean-going Uto Ni Yalo to the Americas and back to Fiji through the Pacific - and was mesmerised by the woman sailor on board the Okeanos Marshalls, a vaka motu which accompanied the Hokule’a home. “She was more excited to meet me than I was to see her when we hooked up,” Vunikura told Islands Business.

“I am a fan of Moana because of the message the movie portrays to viewers across the world. The story of that little princess and her way-finding adventure tells our story in the Pacific. “The story of our ancestors and how we rely on nature - the stars, the wind and the ocean - to navigate our way across vast distances and for our very lives.”

The pair chatted and Vunikura’s adventures excited the screen star, who joined thousands of her own people on the foreshore to catch a glimpse of the ocean explorers who relieved the ancient sailing methods shown in the movie.

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Back to the future

WHEN the traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, Hokule’a, completed the first round-the-world trip by such a vessel, ocean explorers and advocates across the Pacific celebrated more than just its homecoming to Hawaii on June 17.

The Hokule’a took three years to journey around the globe, its crew navigating without modern instruments, using only the stars, wind and ocean swells as guides. They used the same techniques that brought the first Polynesian settlers to Hawaii hundreds of years ago.

Thousands celebrated the Hokule’a’s homecoming on Honolulu’s Magic Island peninsula with pomp and fanfare as it arrived on its last leg from Tahiti accompanied by a flotilla of vessels, including its support canoe, Hikianalia and a new cargo canoe built for the Marshall Islands, Okeanos Marshall. Built in the 1970s and having first sailed in 1976 from Hawaii to Tahiti to prove Polynesians were great explorers and navigators, not drifters as some historians suggest. it travelled around 74,000km reaching 85 ports and 23 nations on this latest trip, known as the Malama Honua By Ilaitia Turagabeci

Back to the future voyage, meaning “to care for our Island Earth”

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