A blue-white smudge on the horizon is enough to cause tremendous excitement amongst everyone on board the little fishing boat bobbing up and down in the waters off the coast of Chennai. As it draws closer, revealing the brightly painted body of the beautiful Esperanza, it makes it real for all of us – this is the moment India becomes part of the 'Defending our Oceans' voyage, our most ambitious expedition to date.
While the ship is docked at the Chennai Port for nearly a
weekshe will receive hundreds of visitors keen to be part of
theEsperanza's global expedition.
Slade, our web editor on board the Esperanza, describes the
excitement of the locals at our arrival:
"It was a very warmreception from the local people. We had a
traditional Carnatic MusicBand playing on the quayside when we came
along side. They then boardedand gave each crew member a Haars (a
necklace made of fresh flowers),and dabbed our forehead with a
paint like substance known as Tikka.It's basically a blessing
welcoming ritual. ... It wasquite a unique experience, which we all
enjoyed a lot."
Planning for the future
In a press conference on board the Esperanza, we also released
areport titled 'Indian Coastal and Marine Ecosystem - Planning for
theFuture.' The report, the first of its kind in India, calls for
theincreased protection of India's marine diversity. The report
wasreleased a day after a tsunami caused death and destruction
alongIndonesia's coastline, hammering home the importance of
coastal andmarine ecosystems around the world, and the
vulnerability ofcommunities dependent on them.
The report presents case studies that highlight India's iconic
biodiversity hotspots (Sunderbans, Bhitarkanika, Pichavaram,
Coringa,Gulf of Mannar) and the threats they face, ranging from
overfishing andloss of habitat to industrial destruction and
aquaculture. Even though,as the Pichavaram case study shows, these
ecosystems (such asmangroves) are often the first line of defense
against naturaldisasters such as cyclones and tsunamis.
Greenpeace IndiaCampaigner Sanjiv Gopal said, "Nature has shown
us it has the power toprotect when preserved, and destroy when
abused. The choice is ours tomake."
We are in India to call on the Indian government to come up with
aclear pathway to bring a larger percentage of coastal and
marinehabitats under legal protection, in consultation with local
fishingcommunities. We are urgning the Indian government to draw up
a road mapof their plan for establishing a comprehensive network of
fullyprotected marine reserves.
the video of the Esperanza's arrival in Chennai on Ocean Defenders
Download the report summary
Download the executive summary of the "Indian Coastal Marine Environment" report
Live from Bollywood!
Read Slade's colourful updates from the open boat days on board the Esperanza