"This is a win-win situation!"
Surfers have a rep for being pro-environment. A remnant of the long-gone counter-culture days of the early seventies.
It ain’t true.
But still we diligently affix Big Oil Don’t Surf stickers on our SUVs and write passionate screeds on Instagram posts criticising government for inaction on climate change and for its use of fossil fuels while celebrating energy and water guzzling wave pools built on parched inland soil.
We buy boards, we bust ‘em, we throw ‘em away.
Our bodies are wrapped in cheap cottons and nylons made in Bangladeshi hellholes for “surf companies” owned by venture capitalists, profit-at-all-cost villains who have no idea of the beauty and brilliance of nature.
The pro-environment thing is, therefore, a chimera, a mask we wear for whatever reason, surfer identity, ignorance.
Now, a project by a New Zealand company, exposes surfers for what we are, as heroic butchers of the natural world.
As reported by Newsroom’s wonderful lead investigations editor, Melanie Reid, (mama of Elliot Paerata Reid, wild shredder from our time-travel wetsuit movie a couple of years back).
A New Zealand-registered company is facing intense opposition to its proposal to excavate 2.5 hectares of coral reef at a Fijian island group in an attempt to improve surf waves at one of the most celebrated diving spots in the world.
Ambitiously named World Wave Project (WWP), the company plans to dig up sections of coral reefs off the remote Qamea and Taveuni Islands in Fiji in what it describes as a “world leading project” to create “a world class wave”.
In its own public consultation submission, WWP boasted it believed the planned waves would bring in 200 tourists per day spending $1000 per day across 300 days, “creating long term employment.”
The proposed development, at two sites near Qamea, would use a jack-up barge mounted with an excavator to dig two channels through coral reefs in a region globally renowned for its pristine waters and popular diving.
In an extensive and highly polished list of ready-to-go answers on the company’s website, rationale for the project is described as follows:
“The surfing population has exploded in the last few decades. As a result, the number of quality surfing locations around the world have become more crowded; the demand for surf breaks is massive and continually increasing, forcing surfers to travel further and consume more resources for the same surfing experience. We believe that creating more waves will lead to more surfers and more stewards of our oceans.”
“This is a win-win project, given the works lease is temporary (only during construction), once complete the new breaks are open to everyone to utilise and are protected forever by the Fiji government, and there is the opportunity for positive ecological impact by removing algae from the top of inert reef, allowing living coral to grow again.”
Brings to mind the New Zealand-born reporter Petey Arnett’s quote from the Vietnam war, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it!”
Heroic butchers, yes?