16, Aug, 2009

Surfbreak Protection concerned by Surfing New Zealand's proposal to drop environmental protection

Category: Surfbreak Protection Society

Surfbreak Protection Society, the national surfers’ organisation whose objective it is to protect the surfing environment, is saddened at Surfing New Zealand's (SNZ) recent proposal to drop environmental protection from its Constitution as one of its main objectives.

SNZ has called a Special General meeting on August 29 to consider adopting a proposed new Constitution.

Amongst the proposed changes is the removal of objective 2.2: ‘To support and promote environmental concerns and issues affecting surfing, especially relating to water quality, the coastal environment and access to the coast’.

Although the proposed Constitution still includes in its objectives, ‘all such things as are incidental or conducive to’… the encouragement, promotion and advancement of the sport of surfing in New Zealand’ (cls 2.1 & 2.8) Surfbreak Protection is unclear as to the reasons for removing the specific environmental clause 2.2.

At the Whangamata Boardriders AGM on 12 August, which was attended by both SNZ President Bruce Scott and Surfbreak Protection president Paul Shanks, Mr Scott announced the Constitution overhaul and gave as the main reason for the removal of clause 2.2. that it could expose SNZ to litigation and associated costs.

“Surfers are at the forefront of environmental protection worldwide” says Surfbreak Protection President Paul Shanks. “Exciting international initiatives for the protection of surfbreaks are happening right now, so we are surprised at SNZ's proposal and the reasons given for it”.

One of the international environmental initiatives is the World Surfing Reserves programme.

At its annual general meeting, held at the World Surfing Games in Costa Rica on 6 August, the International Surfing Association (ISA), which is the parent body of Surfing New Zealand, joined in a partnership with Save the Waves to enshrine the world’s most cherished surf spots.

ISA President Fernando Aguerre gave an impassioned speech at the meeting, calling for all surfing federations to help in the fight to protect special coastal areas around the world. “We have to act now to proactively protect these breaks, or our kids won’t have these amazing places to surf.”

The surfing federations present at the meeting also pledged their full support and recognition for the programme.

SNZ’s affiliated clubs now have less than two weeks to consult with their members on the proposed constitutional changes before sending their representatives to Raglan to endorse or reject the changes at the meeting.

Paul Shanks
403 Achiiles Ave
ph 07 865 8119