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In 2018 the New Zealand High Court overturned an earlier decision by the Environmental Protection Agency, granting a seabed mining company the rights to mine 50 milion tons per annum of ocean floor for 35 years in the South Taranaki Bight.
This ruling was a victory for the community and organisations who had fought so hard, and so long to show the government and people that New Zealand's, and indeed the worlds, oceans are no longer there to be plundered by mankind for transient material gains. Being able to strip away natural resources due to technology advancements is not justifiable compared with the irreversible loss of habitat and marine life that depends upon it.
The company, who’s application was denied, has predictably lodged an appeal against the High Court’s decision with the Appeal Court of NZ. Their legal challenge is due to be heard this year, 2019.
In response to the threat the mining operation poses, Dr Athol Steward, his family and friends, decided they needed to act before it was too late. The risk of loosing a precious stretch of pristine ocean, so valuable to them and the community, to a muddy plume inflicted by the mining operation was unacceptable.Action was needed, so a decision was made for him and his son Lloyd to do 2 marathon open ocean swims totalling 36km’s, to raise awareness about the abundant ocean and the threat it’s facing.
The idea was to swim over the proposed mine site, 25km’s offshore, in the form of a giant cross depicting a ‘NO ENTRY’ zone. This is the message Dr Steward wants to send to the company who are attempting to reinstate the consent to mine, quashed by the High Court.
Swimming in the ocean is never without risks, especially such a long swim so far from the shore. His marathon swim will be 2 legs, a 13km and 23km swim, over 2 days, totalling 11.5 hours in the ocean. But for Athol the aim is simple, he's getting into the water to keep the miners out. Because, for him and many thousands of kiwis, a MASSIVE OPEN CAST seabed mine is NOT OK!
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