Crowded Anchorage

Jun 19 2011

Half-way between Japan and Cape Horn, Australia and Mexico lies Kiritimati Island, part of the Kiribati nation, center of the Pacific Ocean and current location of Pangaea Explorations research yacht Sea Dragon.

It is unusual in this part of the world to see another vessel, if one is found the emotions variously run between pleasure at seeing another and seething at the audacity of another to venture to the same remote spot on the planet. We warmly greet a Hungarian cruising couple a long way from home and look mystified at four large ships at anchor.

The island known to westerners as Christmas has a varied history; military occupations, nuclear testing ground, home to over five-thousand and sport fishing destination, the people are humble, friendly and shy, they have nothing and yet in this natural wilderness everything. The ocean has so much, man demands more; welcome the international fishing industry on a scale I have never seen before.

Off the coast of South America many months ago we witnessed ships anchored on the edge of the continental shelf lit up at night like cities working in numerous groups of ten or more harvesting Squid. Here Purse Seine fishing boats off load huge catches to mother ships for foreign markets; two Asian boats, two Spanish, are there no fish left in the Atlantic?

Ashore we are met by curious people who build their own homes, catch and grow their own food and have little else. What they do have is a large area of rich fishing grounds, a sheltered lee for anchoring and an airfield with international connections. Without their own mass scale fishing boats they sell the rights to others. In return they have an income and infrastructure, donated from faraway places that few here have heard of.

We await our Customs clearance, already two hours late early on a Sunday morning and I fear we may have a long wait. A Proa, as is the local design appears from one of the two sixty meter fishing boats that arrived during the night, the party pulls up alongside. Fortunately the paperwork has been pre-written out, the party has more fuel from the new arrivals; Cigarettes and Alcohol. The government sells fishing rights, the fishermen catch fish and the locals get to party.

Clive Cosby
Skipper Sea Dragon

The research yacht Sea Dragon is currently in the Pacific looking into the state of our oceans. Working with different scientific communities researching plastic pollution, water quality and marine ecosystems the project aims to raise awareness through education to create action to protect our oceans.

The project www.panexplore.com
Video from the South Atlantic Expedition http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AROfHKpI0wg&feature=youtube_gdata_player
My blog http://banthebag-lifeinmotion.blogspot.com/