When actions are principally correct all the doors and weather windows open. Our stop in Green Island, has been a confirmation of that. The monsoon is wicked off Taiwan and has not stopped blowing this year and Green Island, situated off the east coast, is exposed to the worst of this winter weather. Over a month ago when the request came to take the Rainbow Warrior there I flagged the possibility of not being able to make it and the need for a weather window. When the time came we transited from Su Ao to Green Island over night and as we travelled the wind started dropping and by the time we reached our destination it was down to force five.
Anchored in the lee of the island it was calm. This morning I awoke, lifted the dead-light and saw through the port hole a patch of clear sky. By eight o’clock I was bouncing over the waves in one of the small inflatables, dressed in a wet-suit and holding onto the tank of my scuba kit. I buddied with Erik, the chief engineer, in a team of nine divers. The sea calmed and the sun came out just before we slipped below the surface – the first sunshine of the year. The visibility was excellent and the mushroom reef breathtaking; a 16m high coral bummie estimated to be 1,200 years old. A great variety of species live underwater but around the old mushroom there were not many fish to bear witness to. The legacy of scarcity – where man feels compelled to own an aquarium and to fish out of fear that someone else will fish.
Life in the waters surrounding Green Island changed in the 90′s when a security zone was lifted and a free-for-all ensued. Fishers and specimen collectors knew no limit. Today there is a system of marine reserves in place, but they are vague with little enforcement. I noticed a little fishing boat quite near to the reef in the evening. It is with good and principled intentions that Greenpeace is campaigning on the development of marine reserves. Our oceans need sanctuaries to give fish a chance.
Mike Finken is the captain of the Rainbow Warrior, currently in Taiwan on the Defending Our Oceans Tour of East Asia.
Image: ©Greenpeace/ Paul Hilton