The city of Seattle welcomed the Rainbow Warrior with open arms last week as it started its 2013 US west coast tour. Despite the cloudy Seattle skies, spirits were high among the general public over the weekend of open boat tours. More than 1600 individuals gathered to attend tours, learn more about the Bering Sea Campaign, talk to crew members, and take part in a variety of campaign activities.
The weather even cleared up enough to allow the Greenpeace Airship and its crew to fly around the harbor further highlighting the exciting arrival of Greenpeace to Seattle and attracting more visitors to the ship’s dock.
With some of the most lucrative fishing industries in the US, particularly the pollock fleet, based nearby at Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle there was no better place to drum up awareness for the Bering Sea Campaign, and the need to progress with a conservation strategy for this important marine environment. The Rainbow Warrior dressed up for the occasion on Friday evening with a chandelier lit reception held out on the ship’s helipad. This was accompanied by a four-string quartet and a large screen projection showcasing video footage from the first ever manned submersible exploration of Zhemchug and Pribilof canyons, documented during Greenpeace’s 2007 and 2012 research expeditions onboard the Warrior’s sister ship, the Esperanza. The video even included footage of the new sponge species, Aaptos kanuux, discovered on the first expedition – further highlighting why we should be fighting to save this unique environment.
During this event the ship welcomed onboard a variety of key stakeholders responsible for the Canyons’ future including: NOAA Scientists – currently researching coral assemblages in the Bering Sea; members of the fishing industry – participating in the North Pacific Council process; and representatives from Seattle businesses such as PCC Natural markets. The audience was lucky enough to hear from Adam Kanzer of Domini Social Investment Funds and advisor to firms such as McDonalds and Costco on the importance of the Bering Sea ecosystem. Adam spoke about the long-term protection of this environment for everyone’s benefit, stating:
“This is not an issue that pits the environmental community against the business community. It is an effort to protect a fragile ecosystem and ensure the long-term sustainability of these fisheries”
Adam went on to discuss his intentions to raise these issues with other companies and investors aside from those already involved and the need to adopt a more precautionary approach to how we use these marine resources. He finished by explaining that we will never know everything there is to know about these complex canyon environments but what we do know is enough to take immediate action.
These words were echoed and expanded upon by other key speakers such as the Seafood Expert, Eli Penberthy from PCC Natural Markets and of course Senior Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, Jackie Dragon, both of whom gave equally powerful statements regarding the need to preserve these habitats. The people of Seattle shared our enthusiasm with more than 700 people taking part in photo petitions and a twitter pledge asking the Governor and council members to support Bering Sea canyons protection.
Kicking off our West Coast Ship Tour, Captain Joel Stewart was presented with a proclamation from the Mayor of Seattle, declaring it Rainbow Warrior Day in Seattle and speaking to the important and essential work of Greenpeace to stop climate change and reduce our ecological footprint. Fitting for the occasion, the Raging Grannies serenaded the crowd.
Everyone involved in the Rainbow Warrior visit to Seattle was truly grateful to be spending time on the iconic ship alongside such a fantastic crew – and the Arctic30 were always in our thoughts and conversations. A replica cell was created by crew members and placed next to the ship on the dock for a vigil. Thirty members of Greenpeace took turns spending one hour shifts in the jail, completing a thirty hour vigil to support the Arctic30 and collecting hundreds of signatures for the Free the Arctic30. We were also able to take part in a peaceful walk up to the Russian Embassy in Seattle, holding posters of the faces of the individuals captured and bearing a letter inviting the consulate onboard the ship. Led by the Captain we were accompanied by Seattle media reporters and supported in our actions by passers-by. Although we were not successful in delivering the letter we were able to spend the time sharing stories and kind words about the individuals.
The success and support Greenpeace received in Seattle raised the bar high for the rest of the West Coast Tour – a huge thank you to everyone involved. The Rainbow Warrior has now docked in Portland, ready to welcome the community there onboard. Can’t wait to see you there!