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Coastal marathon for marine sustainability

Coastal marathon for marine sustainability

A deepening anxiety about the decline of our coastlines and fisheries and a desire to make a difference is driving 26-year-old Alex Asher on a 2,400 kilometre journey around the North Island’s east coast.

Alex will set out for Wellington from Cape Reinga tomorrow, planning to run and occasionally swim his way down the coast while raising awareness and funds for Forest & Bird and another environmental organisation, Sustainable Coastlines.

Alex returned three months ago from living overseas, an OE that included a year-long stint working in Germany and a month as a volunteer teaching English and computer studies in rural Mexico.

During his time travelling, he saw the degradation of coastlines and fisheries in other countries and started thinking about what was happening globally and in relatively unspoiled New Zealand.

“I think it’s completely mad that we seem to be consciously heading towards a collapse of fishing stocks within my lifetime and are also allowing the senseless bulldozing of the ocean floor,” Alex says.

“I think it’s a good time for us to wise up and be more proactive about our environment, and to do what we can ourselves rather than waiting for others to make the move,” he says.

“I wanted to support Forest & Bird because of its advocacy work on the marine environment and sustainable commercial fisheries, and its practical work offering solutions, such as its Best Fish Guide.”

When it came to choosing a challenge close to his heart, running and swimming the North Island’s east coast was an easy choice.

“I’ve always had a close affinity with the east coast because that’s where I used to go diving, surfing and swimming before I went overseas.”

Alex will be mostly running along the east coast’s roads, but he will also pound along tracks, beaches, and over farm land, as well as swimming across five harbours and a number of estuaries on the way.

He was running long distances while overseas but stepped up his training to a peak of six hours after returning to New Zealand and the coastal marathon took shape.

He plans to travel around 40 kilometres a day for six days a week during his long southward trek, which he expects to take two and a half months.

“My attitude is that it is an adventure, not a race.”

During his trek, Alex will be updating his progress on his Facebook page www.facebook.com/CapetoStrait and donations to Forest & Bird can be made through his web page http://www.capetostrait.org.nz


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