‘It’s their future and they are taking charge of it’
ISOBEL EWING | Fairfax
Pupils formed a chain which stretched the length of the beach at Opunake’s Middleton Bay yesterday in protest against seabed mining off their coast.
The Hands Across The Sand protestwas the initiative of Opunake High pupils who researched the effects of seabed mining on the environment and were concerned by the lack of information.
Kallum Whitehead, 18, said there was little research on what effect seabed mining would have on the surf and the beach.
“It hasn’t been done on this sort of scale before so how can we know what will happen?
“They haven’t told us enough, they haven’t told us what it will do to the environment.”
Marlene Ruka, 17, said iron sand mining company Trans-Tasman Resources was going about the process in a “rough way”.
“I know that it will happen but it seems they are not making the right precautions.”
Trans-Tasman Resources has submitted a mining permit application under the Crown Minerals Act with New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals to extract ironsands in the South Taranaki Bight. The company will apply for environmental marine consents under the new Exclusive Economic Zone legislation in October.
Jakob Pettersen, 17, said he was concerned about the damage seabed mining would do to the ocean’s food chain.
“The whales, dolphins, it will affect everything.”
Jakob said they had invited Trans-Tasman Resources to come and speak to the school but had received no response.
Alyssia Redin, 13, Kendra Langton, 13, and Krysten Johnson, 14, were involved in organising the protest and felt strongly opposed to seabed mining.
“I like surfing and we always go fishing and pauaing,” Alyssia said. “It will ruin what we do on a daily basis.”
Kendra was worried about how it would affect the environment for future generations.
“I don’t want to ruin it for my kids and my kids’ kids.”
The purpose of Hands Across The Sand was to unite the school in protecting their beaches and coastline, Krysten said.
Most of the school joined in the protest, with the exception of a few of the older boys.
Deputy principal Andrea Hooper said the project was pupil-driven after visitors to the school had spoken to them about seabed mining and marine life.
“They said, ‘Wait a minute, we don’t want this on our coast, once you’ve got some research you can come back.”‘
New Plymouth Kiwis Against Seabed Mining spokesman Chris Wilkes was delighted to see the pupils standing up for what they believed in.
“Obviously they’re inspired to take the time out and do it, which is great.
“It’s their future and they are taking charge of it.”