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Surfers Say No Marina Still The Right Marina

September 25, 2006

Surfers Say No Marina Still The Right Marina

Surfers concerned the proposed Whangamata marina development could degrade the renowned Whangamata bar surf break, and other natural features, are supporting Conservation Minister Chris Carter’s stand against the proposed marina.

The newly formed Surfbreak Protection Society says the risk to the Whangamata surf break is a key reason the group formed in September. The society has been set up to protect New Zealand’s surf breaks from things such as coastal development, pollution, sand mining, and access restrictions.

Led by Whangamata surfer and Green Ribbon Award winner Paul Shanks, the group urges surfers to join in order to establish a united voice on such issues. The society also encourages surfers to contact their local MPs and write letters to their local newspaper encouraging Mr Carter to stand his ground in the wake of the recent judicial review of Mr Carter’s decision to decline the marina consent.

The society believes the minister should retain the right to make a final decision in such cases of national interest where developments threaten local ecology and the public’s right to recreational access.

The marina proposal would see 170,000 cubic metres excavated for a 205 berth marina, require that a rare salt marsh be converted to a car park, damage traditional shellfish beds, and limit the public’s access to, and enjoyment of, this part of the estuary.

The impact of the excavations and annual dredging on the fabled surf break is highly contested, but surfers argue that the precautionary principle should apply and that boat owners should content themselves with existing moorings and means of access that don’t threaten other marine assets. The Whangamata bar is one of a handful of world class surf breaks in New Zealand and the marina proposal has incensed many in New Zealand’s 200,000 strong surfing community.

While the court ruling suggests Mr Carter should reconsider his earlier decision refusing a coastal permit for the marina, the Surfbreak Protection Society sees no reason for Mr Carter to change his mind.

Surfers wanting to contact or join the society should email: surfbreak.protection@gmail.com


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