Protest paddler gathers support
"It's a really special thing paddling up there."BLANTON SMITH
Professional surfer and environmental campaigner Dave Rastovich says his protest paddle is firing up the communities he passes through.
Rastovich, 32, is halfway through paddleboarding from Taranaki to Piha to raise awareness around the protection of Maui's dolphins and the fight against seabed mining.
He said he had had a positive response from those he had met so far.
"The locals, they all feel the same way - they want to protect the environment and seabed," he said. "Giving information to the community is firing them up."
He hopes arming the community with information about seabed mining and the Maui's dolphin will encourage them to voice their concerns.
"A lot of people think it's too late but we all need to know that there's heaps of people who want to preserve New Zealand as the beautiful place it is," he said.
"The public have 20 days to submit after a company goes for consent and if the community gets together and submits we have a really good chance of stopping it. If they take some form of action it (the paddle) is a success."
Prospecting permits are being sought for mining off the west coast of the North Island over the same area Rastovich is paddling.
Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd hold prospecting permits covering 6332 square kilometres of seabed off the coast of South Taranaki and hopes to get mining under way by 2016.
Paddling up the coast has been a chance to reflect on just how beautiful the west coast of the North Island is, Rastovich said.
"It's a really special thing paddling up there and seeing the beauty, the rivers and waterfalls on to the beach," he said.
Although the protest paddle was about raising awareness of the Maui's dolphin as well, Rastovich admitted he hadn't see one yet.
"When you paddle you've got your head down and you're going for it," he said.
"You're not sitting up like in a boat. Down in the water you don't see much more than the waves."
Rastovich is expected to arrive at his final destination in Piha on Saturday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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