On 15th November 2012, a coalition of environmental groups will begin an epic sea-paddle, from Cape Taranaki to Piha. Their goal is to raise awareness of intertwined issues of seabed mining and the plight of the critically endangered Maui’s Dolphin.
In a joint initiative that will span 350km of ocean and take 14 days, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and Surfers for Cetaceans (S4C) members, will use a variety of self propelled vessels, including SUP’s, to make an epic land and sea journey, paying homage to the Maui dolphin, as they glide through the territory of the endangered mammal. Guest paddlers will be joining the epic journey in sections.
Aside from focused community discussions in a multitude of small towns, the groups are holding three major events (New Plymouth 16/17 Nov, Raglan 24 Nov and Piha 1 Dec), to mark milestones of the journey, and celebrate the marine environment that communities benefit so much from, and hold so dearly.
A Hoe spokesperson and internationally renown Kiwi surfer, and co-founder of S4C Dave Rastavich (“Rasta”), said recently, ”People the world over come to experience the raw, untouched waters of New Zealand, and celebrate a space not yet disturbed by industrial humanity. Yet, if widespread seabed mining reaches the coastal waters of this country, the allure of visiting a once pristine place will disappear.”
“This coast, including Taranaki’s jewels, Raglan’s points, and Auckland’s beaches, are Aotearoa’s spiritual center for surfers. All would be threatened if the sand flow is interrupted, and a coastline littered with flawless waves could be irretrievably altered. As well, seabed mining will undoubtedly threaten the future of the critically endangered Popoto/Maui’s Dolphin. On those grounds alone it should be prohibited,” says Rastavich.
Proposals to mine the West Coast Seabed are firmly opposed by a range of business groups and environmental organisations, including SEAFIC (The Seafood Industry Council), Sea Shepherd NZ, Project Jonah, Sustainable Coastlines, Mauis SOS, Greenpeace, WWF, Forest and Bird, and Surfbreak Protection Society.
Leading kiwi individuals including All Blacks star Josh Kronfeld, and ex-Waitakare Mayor Bob Harvey, have also criticised the plans in public, with Kronfeld describing them recently as “a blindside hit”.
KASM spokesperson Phil McCabe, a Raglan tourist operator, states, “Mining the west coast seabed for the purposes of exporting raw ore is an economic folly, that will degrade the Tasman ecosystem and deliver few returns to the nation. Foreign shareholders will reap the profit and we will have to deal with the impacts, which would likely include erosion and less fish in the water”.
“The Taranaki and Waikato west coasts live off revenue generated by both recreational and commercial fishing and surf tourism. Seabed mining directly threatens the revenue from both sources,” McCabe says.
As a prelude to the paddle, McCabe with his partner and their 11 year old daughter, will be walking the stretch of 150 km stretch of coastline, and engaging with the diverse communities along the way, commencing with an appointment with the Whanganui Mayor Annete Main and Council in chambers, followed by four publicly notified meetings along the route.
The exhausting itinerary will eventually include stops at every west coast community between Whanganui and Piha, with a range of public meetings and celebrations on the way.