A NEW surf and boat riders club has launched a Surfers Against Destruction (SAD Fiji) campaign.
The Vodo Ua Boardriders Club (VUBC) is a strong advocate against the destruction and pollution of our reef and ocean.
"We need to protect this precious God given resource that is one of a kind," said VUBC committee member Ian Ravouvou Miller.
"This is our source of food and playground to us all."
Miller said there were operators, locals and foreigners, who believed our reef and ocean "is a place where they can come to disrespect, destroy and pollute for their own gain".
"This needs to stop and we need our authorities to take heed and punish those that follow these unscrupulous actions," Miller said.
"We the people will not sit back and let this happen to our beloved Fiji. Our Constitution also states this is our right to protect our resources 40-1: 'Every person has the right to a clean and healthy environment which includes the right to have the natural world protected for the benefit of present and future generations through legislation'."
He claimed some operators and people were anchoring their barge and boats on the world's number one surf reef — Cloudbeak.
"They are partying, eating and polluting and who knows what else with no regard to the destruction and pollution on the fragile environment," Miller said.
"The police can't go out to check on them because they are out in the middle of the ocean. Also other big boats are throwing their big anchors onto this reef where we surf destroying the coral. Coral, the very reason why this wave breaks the way it does."
Miller added through this there were more big sharks seen in the surf line up, where the surfers surf.
"This has never been seen before — bull sharks which have been attracted to the pollution in the water," he said.
"All we need is one shark attack and general tourism is over — forget about surf tourism for that matter. Fiji hosts the Fiji Pro in June every year which is rated by the pros that come as the number one surf destination in the world.
"You think the event will come back if shark attacks are happening at Cloudbreak?
"Millions of dollars of free good publicity suddenly turns to bad terrifying publicity. Another area that needs to be considered is that those that go to eat and party (on barge/boats) are not surfers at all. Surfers care for the environment so they do not care about them polluting and destroying the area.
"The others come pollute and are gone. We the surfers are the ones paddling around in the pollution or shark infested waters and the people of Fiji will have to deal with the consequences to clean up the mess."
Miller said this was the reason why they were now lobbying for the government to endorse these surf reef areas around Tavarua and Namotu as a National Marine Reserve.
"This way operators (on barge/boats) that show malpractice in the reserve can not be there. The Marine Reserve is left in its natural state so that the environment is preserved in an eco friendly/sustainably managed way.
"We operators pay towards a user pay system which goes into a Reserve Trust Fund that looks after the upkeep of the reserve, boat moorings, safety and security of the reserve and some funding goes back to the resource custodians for schools, housing, medical."
VUBC will soon be holding a SAD Fiji Surf Competition.
"This will be the platform to raise awareness of these SAD issues and fundraise for boat moorings and resource custodians to have the demarkation of the qoliqoli which is a Marine Protected Area but at the moment people are destroying/polluting their area. Its like someone from elsewhere polluting your front yard, would you like that?"