Stingrays, orca and Raglan's offshore madness

HEIDI DOUGLASS
Last updated 12:28 19/11/2013

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Stingrays, orca and Raglan's offshore madness

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OPINION: Last night, at dusk, I stood at the water's edge looking out over lovely Lorenzen Bay here in Raglan. The moon was out and the water was calm and peaceful as I watched small, silvery fish jumping, here and there, out of the water.  What a blissful scene. It could have been taken out of a glossy, high end, travel brochure.   All of a sudden, there was the sound of loudly swooshing water about twenty feet to my right that scared me to death. The water moved as if a large powerful man's shoulders were doing the butterfly stroke, but no human head surfaced.  An enormous Sting Ray most likely. They routinely feed in this bay. "Better enjoy them now while you can Heidi" I thought to myself. Their habitat might soon be ruined and the Sting Ray in this bay could just become a memory. That is, if foreign owned companies get their way and are allowed to do deep sea oil drilling and sea bed mining here on our West Coast.

It's the complex food chain and web of life you see. Destroy and remove the sea bed by allowing seabed mining and their food disappears. If the Sting Rays are wiped out then we also will lose the luxury of watching the Killer Whales that come up the harbour to feed on them. Everything is connected within our seas.  What a luxury New Zealanders in coastal communities like Raglan have.  We can watch the Orca from our lounge windows.  However, there is a second threat. If deep sea oil drilling is allowed to go ahead, any day now, their habitats could be wiped out much quicker.  Both of these threats face us here in Raglan at the same time: sea bed mining for the iron in our sand and deep sea oil drilling off of our coast.  

I shake my head in disbelief. This goes beyond stupidity and short sightedness: this constitutes madness. I am a Clinical Psychologist. I know madness when I see it. You would have to be more than stupid, mad surely, to put your marine environment, and all of its precious resources and creatures at risk by allowing Texas owned Anadarko to do anything more than to swim in your sea. This is the same company found liable by the American government for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill disaster. Our government is going to let them do deep sea oil drilling here, but get this, they might drill even deeper and the ship is brand new and never tested and the sea here is rougher. Yes, this is madness alright.

For 87 days back in 2010 they could not cap the geyser of oil that they released into the sea. With all of their flash equipment and all of their money and with all of their men they could not stop it for 87 days.  An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped and killed whales and other sea life, scores of birds and caused unprecedented and catastrophic destruction to the coastline and the communities and families that had depended on it for their livelihoods for generations.   The chemicals used to disperse the oil seem to have caused genetic damage to the seafood in that area.  Those shrimp born with no eyes and the fish with black sores on them don't seem very appetizing to me eh?

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I am sure that the people of Louisiana and Mississippi never thought it could happen to them. I am sure Big Oil told them everything would be fine and not to worry too; just like they are telling us in New Zealand right now.   Aren't we supposed to learn from the Gulf of Mexico Disaster? Yes, surely sounds like madness to me to let them drill here. A friend in France just emailed me. She told me that they come to our waters because Europeans won't allow them in their waters.

You might think "yeah, yeah, yeah, but I need oil to be drilled right? How else can we all fuel our cars to get to work tomorrow?" People wake up and educate yourselves. We do not need this old, unsustainable oil technology and we haven't for ages. When Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel engine way back in 1893, he invented it to run on peanut oil, not fossil fuels.

In 1900 America, that's 113 years ago, only 22% of the cars on the road were powered by petrol. The rest were powered by electricity and steam. A bombed out, post WWII, Germany powered its city buses with methane gas that was pulled behind the buses on trailers in huge canvas sacs. The gas came from cow manure. We have more sustainable technology and we have had it for more than 100 years.  We have to make this switch at some point. Oil is running out anyway.  There isn't that much left. It is a finite resource.  We just all need to stand together and push money hungry Big Oil out of the way so that we can get these technologies into mass production. This will make it more affordable for the average New Zealander who would really prefer that we still be able to admire the majestic orcas from our lounge windows.

People of New Zealand don't let these foreign owned companies risk our precious and amazing seas. Stand up to the madness and say "NO". Then, in your next breath, demand renewable and sustainable energy on a large scale now.  I will drive to my job in Hamilton tomorrow in my diesel VW Golf that we converted to run on waste veggie oil from Jo's Fish & Chip Shop here in Raglan. It is easy. Local man Mark Dobson can tell you how.

Some brave New Zealanders are sleeping in sail boats off our coast tonight. They are out in the sea off Raglan to face Big Oil in the flotilla.  As I go to sleep tonight, I will feel thankful to them for trying to stop the madness by putting their boats and their bodies and their beliefs for a more sustainable New Zealand between Big Oil and our Orcas. I will keep doing all that I can to stop this too.  We need your help and the help of every New Zealander to stop this threat to our New Zealand way of life. See these two web sites to get ideas: Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and GreenPeace New Zealand. Thank you.

In solidarity for our sea,

Heidi Douglass

Raglan, New Zealand

- © Fairfax NZ News

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