Source: Bay Post
SURFING a world-class break, Allen Grimwood remembers the day his spirits sank in an ocean of plastic
In 2007, the president of the Eurobodalla branch of the Surfrider Foundation Australia was surfing off the east coast of Bali, the tiny island he has loved since his first visit in 1981.
“It is one of the world’s best breaks,” Mr Grimwood said.
“Just paddling through the water, I was picking up plastic bags between my fingers.
“On the beaches were plastic bottles, syringes, all sorts of rubbish.
“That was an awakening for me.
“I have been there half a dozen times and surfed right around its coast.
“I have seen the environment change in terms of infrastructure development and traffic.
“A lot of it is good, it generates employment and income for the Balinese people, but at the same time there is a massive impact on their environment.”
PLASTIC PERIL: Rubbish in the water and on beaches has galvanized Eurobodalla surfers to help cleanup Bali and in their own backyard.
With the island loved to death by millions of visitors each year, Mr Grimwood and his fellow surfers have joined a Balinese campaign to gather a million signatures on a petition.
At the same time, they are cleaning up at home, collecting rubbish in the Eurobodalla, then sorting and counting it for a national data base.
Mr Grimwood hopes they can be effective at home and away.
“Bali’s governor Made Pastika has agreed to ban the manufacture, distribution and use of plastic bags in Bali if one million signatures were obtained,” he said.
“So far there have been just over 56,000 signatures.
“This area (Eurobodalla) has an incredibly strong environmental focus so I would expect we could achieve thousands of signatures.
“Surfers, and there are plenty of us around here, have a longstanding relationship with Bali.
“Eurobodalla people travel there regularly, so there is strong, long-term relationship with the island.”
Mr Grimwood said Bali’s waterborne rubbish was a combination of plastic used on the island and plastic floating from the South China Sea.
“The rubbish is mounting,” he said.
“It will collect on the beach and drift out to sea with the tide and then the wind will blow it back in.”
This year, Mr Grimwood set up the Eurobodalla branch of the Surfrider Foundation and members took part in Clean Up Australia.
Internationally, the foundation has launched a campaign, Rise Above Plastics.
This month, 15 people collected six bags of rubbish from a national park beach at Bingi and sent the data to the Tangaroa Blue campaign, a lobby group collating national figures to convince governments and manufacturers to reduce plastic waste.
For details visit www.avaaz.org and search for Bye Bye Plastic Bags on Bali.
Visit www.surfrider.org.au for ten ways to Rise Above Plastics.