Congratulations and much gratitude to Dave “Rasta” Rastovich’s on returning to New Zealand for his epic journey 350km, two-week solo paddle from Cape Taranaki to Piha, west of Auckland, New Zealand which culminated on the 1st of December. The paddle aims to draw international awareness to the work of KASM (Kiwis Against Seabed Mining) and the threats posed by iron-ore mining, which includes habitat destruction of the last remaining 55 Maui's Dolphins.
As Dave negotiated radical currents and 8ft + waves during a 40km leg, he was escorted by a pod of 8 Maui’s Dolphins, which represents 15% of the remaining population. He described the day as one of the best of his life as these dolphins helped him navigate the notorious Manukau bar; "They swam with me and one bumped my board. They gave me the confidence to get me over the bar. It was amazing."
Earlier this year Rastovich, professional surfer and environmental campaigner, came out to Raglan on our invitation to join us for Maui’s Dolphin Day and outreach to the local surfing community. While collaborating with a number of conservation organizations to save the Maui’s & Hector’s Dolphins, we also learned about yet another high level threat to the survival of these dolphins: seabed mining along the coast.
The extinction of the critically endangered Maui’s Dolphin, degradation of the fisheries industry and permanent alteration of globally renowned surf breaks are just some of the outcomes said to be at risk if seabed mining is to occur. At present, the entire west coast of New Zealand, from Wanganui to Cape Reinga, is under either a prospecting or exploration permit for iron sand.
“There is so much at risk. Wiping out the Maui’s dolphin, losing sand, stirring up the seabed, disturbing and releasing toxins, creating huge dead-zones ... this is an issue that is going to affect everyone in New Zealand,” said Rastovich. “Less than three percent of the money raised from these massive projects is going to stay in New Zealand so it’s not about money,” he added.
Proposals to mine the West Coast seabed are firmly opposed by a range of business groups and environmental organizations, including SEAFIC (The Seafood Industry Council), Sea Shepherd NZ, Origami Whales Project/”Let’s Face It” Visual Petitions, 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”.
Quoting Rastovich: "Its up to all of us to take the steps (to save the Maui's Dolphins).
...What people have to do is make their voice be heard."