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Cyclone Season = Change of Plans

The Climate Challenger Voyage is a community initiative inspired by The Nature Conservancy’s Manuai Matawai, who dreamed of building a traditional long voyage canoe and sailing around the Pacific to connect communities grappling with climate change through culture and conservation

Two years later, Manuai and nine other crew members—members of the Titan tribe of Papua New Guinea—are manning the Pere outrigger canoe that they built to travel more than 10,000 kilometers. Follow their journey on ClimateChallengerVoyage.net and on NationalGeographic.com.

Cyclone Season = Change of Plans

November 8, 2012

Hello all following our voyage,

I just wanted to let you all know that there has been a change of plans for our voyage. Instead of heading to Nauru and continuing on to the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, the Climate Challenger will be heading back to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea to continue the voyage next year. Because the trip has taken longer than anticipated, we are now heading into cyclone season in the Pacific and would be attempting to cross the largest stretches of ocean so far in the voyage which is just too risky.

Initially we planned to stop at villages for short periods only but more villages especially in the Solomon Islands are showing interest in the voyage and requesting the crew visit to share their experiences and knowledge in conservation and climate change.

Naro, West Guadalcanal

After leaving Marau where we saw their seaweed farming and screen printed our new sails, we visited the village of Naro, west Guadalcanal, who has set up a locally managed marine area (LMMA), or tambu area, to conserve their marine resources and increase their food security. More than 100 men, women and children came to listen to our experiences in conservation and climate change adaptation.

Manuai Matawai printing logos on sail. Photo by Bernard Manus.
Bernard Checheng Manus shares Mbuke experience in community climate change adaptation initiatives with Naro Community.

Honiara Clean Up

We returned to Honiara, Solomon Islands yesterday to participate in the Clean Pacific Campaign and clean up the rubbish and plastics from the beachfront outside the Mendana Hotel. We will continue to remove rubbish from the shores around Honiara until we set sail for Savo Island at the end of the week.

Bernard and Joseph Ambou packing trash into garbage bag. Photo by Manuai Matawai.

Although we will be missing Micronesia this time, we will be seeing you next year. This will also give us more time to raise needed funds, produce our documentary and plan the next phase of our journey. We’ll keep you posted on our revised plans as they arise. Thanks for your continuing support!

Seaweed Farming on Simeruka Island

November 7, 2012

From Honiara, we traveled to Marau on the eastern tip of Guadalcanal, and were accompanied by John Houakau a village development worker with FSPI (Foundation of the People of South Pacific International) who is also from Marau. John and I met in Fiji in 2009, when we both attended a Marine Management Course at University of South Pacific.

Marau people are dependent on marine resources for economic security and thus realized that their marine resources were depleting and therefore needed to set aside locally managed marine areas (LMMA ). However, the people of Marau need to earn money. Seaweed farming was introduced to the people of Marau by FSPI in 2009. Seaweed was identified as an alternate income generating source to support livelihood. With help of FSPI, the seaweed (Kappaphceus alvarnzii) was imported from Philippines 3 years ago. The seaweed is fetching SD3.00/kg in Honiara by some Asians namely Lee Kok Kuen. Seaweed is used in pharmaceuticals, as a preservative and food additive.

The Benefits of Farming Seaweed

When asked about the benefits, economically, it support family’s livelihood and eases the family’s burden on school fees and basic household needs. Environmentally, when fishing pressure is taken out, tambu reefs are recovering as more fish come in abundance and coral health cover is improving compared to before. Socially, seaweed farming is a family oriented business where all fully participate, and it eases social problems such as unemployment.

Although seaweed farming brings many benefits, transport costs are an issue with the community which is very much killing their effort.

The Process

A healthy young seaweed branch is cut out from the mature weed and tied onto a 30m string rope. Space between each seedling is about 20 to 25 cm. The string of young seaweed is tied onto a young round mangrove pole stretching horizontally in the water where there is a slight current. The seaweed is submerged in the water and should reach maturity after 6 weeks. The seaweed is harvested and dried in the sun. An average drying time is 4 days if there is plenty of sunshine.

Seaweed harvest with the Climate Challenger in the background. Photo by Manuai Matawai.

Crew members Pokakes Pondraken of Pere and Bernard Checheng of Mbuke suggested that this is a good alternative livelihood project to bring economic security, and would like to introduce in Manus.

We arrived back in Honiara on Tuesday and will be heading to Naro today then to Savo Island before departing for Western Province (New Georgia) by the end of the week.