Ethics in Environmentalism, Citizenship and Stewardship

A New Wave to Wipe You Out
A New Wave to Wipe You Out

A new wave is breaking.

There has been a lot of change afoot for me, and there were a few things I had been avoiding acting on.  Those subjects called for much research and thought. They have been on my plate repeatedly lately.

In one circumstance, I had to take a close look at an environmental group which some friends had created many years ago, for the purpose of preserving beach and ocean access. The group, Surfrider Foundation, has done an amazing amount of good work, and I have assisted it by various means, since its inception in the mid 80s.

The past several years have seen me sort of look the other way, (after I was politely ignored) in pointing out what I thought to be some rather serious misdeeds. I won’t get into those, because that is unfair.  I simply disagreed with the circumstances and events, which I was cognizant of having occurred.

After much consideration (months) I penned a manifesto of sorts and circulated it amongst my friends and colleagues, which may make me “the enemy” in their eyes. I dislike hurting people. So I tend to be very slow to act on some things. But that tenet (distaste for inflicting harm) just came back and forced me to do and say something. Many of these people are life long friends and confidants. I wanted, no, needed, to be clear.

Surfrider has joined with a Govt agency (NOAA)  and implemented actions which I see as completely opposite of those it started out with.

Here are two separate links from SR’s websites. They explain in the organization’s own words, a bit more regarding a current trend they are engaged in.

In fact, this is being endorsed by the President. Here is the link.

It reads as something good. It is not. If you believe it is, then you may want to consider that both the MMS and EPA (Govt agencies) were in charge of regulating the drilling projects on the Gulf Coast. I am assuming you now know the part they played in contributing to the disaster, and assisting in it, with the implementation of massive usage of Corexit. Some call it the “crime of the century”.

I disagree with assisting in this. On every level. Hence this blog. The ocean is something I take very personally, as I do regarding my obligations to my friends.

Keep in mind that I was right there when this group started, and have supported them in various ways throughout the years. That is a lot of support, and a lot of years.

I realized,  what has been quietly eating at my insides, is that what I do requires me to listen to everybody. When, as a result of listening, a situation arises that forces me to actually DO something, I am no longer a Photographer or Journalist. I have become something else. It is very uncomfortable for me, and I hate how it makes me feel. But to say and do nothing instead, is amoral when one believes a wrong is being committed against innocents. What is being acted on now by our Government, and being promoted by the Environmental Community, will alter the rights and freedoms of all future generations of ocean users.

Often, change and ethics shifts occur in the merest of increments, and one does not realize the ship has actually turned around and is heading the wrong way.

After many years of  informal efforts to input the process, I have found that the group is determined to keep people out of the ocean. Something I want no part of, in any way.

They believe it is for the good of the ocean. It may be.

Below is an excerpt from the manifesto which I sent to my editors, close friends and colleagues in August of 2010.

“My position basically, is that I want no Government regulation of my access to the Ocean or any of my activities in it, when those activities are already thoughtful, informed and benign, long term.

I believe that if you think Government is here to help the environment, that you are seriously misinformed. If you look closely at the recent episode in the Gulf, it points at exactly what one needs to realize: The system is not working. When something is broken, you do not give it more responsibility, weight and money. You stop.

As someone who has worked with the regulatory control system in the development of laws and regulations for industry in California, I think that this entire movement, to place a relatively healthy ocean under increased lockdown to the public, is a sham. It is regulating and controlling the wrong thing: YOU.

When organizations such as Surfrider were formed, it was written into the charter that they existed to preserve beach and ocean access. Someone may have rewritten the charter, as SR is now not only endorsing the MLPA, but has worked with NOAA to implement public access sanctions behind the scenes. One need only look as far as the banning of PWC’s in the Monterey Bay Santuary.

Here is another revealing link to a piece published by the San Luis Chapter of Surfrider. I am going to point out here, that they agree with surf rescue usage of PWC’s , but as this rule is applied in real life, the rescue community is NOT allowed to train or practice anywhere in the Santuary nor will be.  So the liability for the people behind the legislation should someone die as a result, is rather high. I will not bother to point out every one of a huge number of inaccuracies in the document as arguing is pointless at this time. I am done trying to push the square peg of reason into the round hole of prejudice and prurient interest

Modern Day OutlawModern Day Outlaw

It is my position that the current path in implementation of the MPLA and other future acts, are going to violate all of our Constitutional Rights, and in the long run take away the freedoms many of you have enjoyed as an ocean going clan.

As a native, and as an American, I urge you, fellow leaders of your own groups and tribes, to do your own research and make up your own minds on the correct course of action for your groups and your families. That you study and not blindly follow, is the only way any of this will ever change.”

What Aloha Actually Says
What Aloha Actually Says

The Kumulipo. The reason this Hawaiian will not surrender his Ocean.

Here is the historic background to the Kumilipo.

If you think Government agencies like the MMS and EPA are efficient and good representatives of your group,  great,  fall in. I do not see it that way, based on my experiences in industry, as a waterman, a member of the Rescue Community, and a conscientious, sentient human being.

I cannot, in good conscience, endorse something I believe to be wrong on so many levels.

I believe we are at the edge of the dawn of a new era, and that it looks like more low benefit to high cost modus, which may cost future generations access to the beaches and oceans. Benefits? Yes there are some. Just not for you.

My answer is a simple “no”.

Below is a gallery of every day ocean activities. I endeavored to inject some History in the edit.  Some of these may become “illegal” soon. Some already are, in places where the MLPA has been implemented.

I anticipate Civil Rights violation lawsuits to arise. Dawn of a new age, where you will need legal representation to enforce your “inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Do those words sound familiar?

Every Ocean user and American needs to read this carefully. You will be stunned. I was. This is in it and is a reference to what tyranny our forefathers fled in coming to America. I was stunned.  There it was. History repeating.

“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

Does that describe something familiar?

Agenda 21. What we see is possibly attributable to this.

The Story of STUFF. Informative enlightenment, in an entertaining albeit alarming story.

This is how we fix things. A related blog post by Seth Godin



15 Responses to Ethics in Environmentalism, Citizenship and Stewardship

  1. Originally the Surfrider participation in line with the MBNMS revisions DID NOT Support rescue boat usage of personal watercraft in the Sanctuary waters. In fact, they pulled back on this when they received from local and State agencies a backlash of concern about NOAA and SR telling these public safety agencies how to do thier job. Even to the point of reporting their training schedules and locations to a NOAA officer. There is always more lurking behind the ‘story’ than the story itself. And it is very easy for any of us to believe we don’t have to participate because we have friends who will do it for us. Once taken, not given back. Kudos for the honest and forthright expression of your Constitutional right to free speech in our great Republic. The US Constitution and our rights are at risk more now than ever. Too bad most folks keep silent and grumble instead of taking action and managing the government ‘by the people, for the people’.

    • I remember rigging boats in the Pillar Point lot as we readied for Mavericks Ocean Safety work, and seeing a rather odd looking guy photographing our boats. Then during the event, the tickets written to anyone who happened to violate the line in the water Surfrider and NOAA had drawn. No one needs this. It is a pointless giving away of freedoms to the wrong group for the wrong reasons and a complete shift away from the original purpose of a great group of people. Now to find out that they are being subsidized by a company notorious for parasitizing surf culture. The last straw. If it swims and quacks and has a bill…..

  2. David,
    I have repeatedly advocated that regulations should be about BEHAVIOR not access. Those pleas always went unheeded. You summarized the entire situation with these lines:

    “I think that this entire movement, to place a relatively healthy ocean under increased lockdown to the public, is a sham. It is regulating and controlling the wrong thing: YOU.”

    Government bureaucrats – at least State and Federal bureaucrats – are making decisions on whose ocean it is, on the basis of who their friends, associates and supporters are.

    Just one example. In California there are back room deals would make the Mafia proud. Congresswoman Capps strongly and proudly supports NOAA, who in turn provides millions of $ for UC Santa Barbara programs that are overseen by Professor Capps, the congresswoman’s husband.

    Good luck to anyone whose ocean use in California doesn’t coincide with Ms. Capp’s personal views.

    • John. Once again you provide an educated opinion and perspective that were it not for your voice, many would never hear. I am VERY grateful for being able to read of this. Santa Barbara is a VERY small town, and accountability can come quickly when people find out what has been going on behind closed doors.

  3. There are a lot of people who do not have a frequent or close relationship with the ocean but like the *idea* of a protected ocean, and they are a double-edged sword. These folks might go to Yosemite never, or once a lifetime, but they appreciate that Yosemite is protected as a National Park even if they never go. For them the coast and ocean is a similar place, existing mostly in their heads. Protection sounds good.

    Those people are a political force, and make something like this politically viable.

    Then there are the opposite, vast ranks of marauders, who would oppose any protections like this because Government control might hinder their ability to exploit the ocean and coast. These people may or may not like the ocean, but what they love is themselves, and their wallets.

    I think it is hugely important to protect the coast and ocean against the marauders, but I think the approach taken is flawed. It seems that what we have is ocean zoning by committee. Who is on this committee and how does it make it’s decisions? Are the people making decisions fully immersed in the subject matter, and by that I mean are they *in the water* week in and week out?

    There are real questions in the protection and management of something as complex as the ocean and human interaction, questions that are not answered by setting up committees to make decisions. Introduce humans into something, and you have introduced a failure mode, not a solution. Humans are flawed by nature.

    Reading the Executive Order I was underwhelmed by it’s stated principles, and principles are what we need. Great principles are hard to derive, a reason once we have some good ones like in the US Constitution we stick to them so passionately. But honestly I do not think the US Constitution, drafted in 1786, has all the answers for a society who has grown 145 times what it was then (from a few million people to half-a-billion).

    Some of the decisions already seem questionable or worse. How are these decisions being made? What is the principal being invoked, or is this just someone’s judgement call?

    If there are no authoritative principles, how do we know that the zoning won’t one day go completely awry? Zoning is a slippery slope, without firm principals, and could easily end up bent to commercial interests.

    In terms of protecting the ocean, imagine if we regulated who could go to Yosemite and what they could do there (no 4x4s, no hunting) but then dumped our trash there, made it a landfill.

    The main threats to the ocean come from man’s activities on land, not man’s activities on or in the ocean. A little PWC exhaust might seem repugnant, but it is the plastic that finds it’s way into the sea, and the human crap that washes into with each rain, and other effuse from civilization that threatens it’s health and pristinity.

    It’s no coincidence that the pristine ocean areas to be protected are the one’s with the least nearby human civilization. Roping off those areas won’t keep them pristine, it only puts the focus on the wrong thing, and alienates those who are most passionate about protecting our mother ocean.

    Anyway, if this is what we have, I hope it is managed extremely thoughtfully and works well

    • There is that hope Eric.

      I think that where the Constitution and Bill of Rights weigh in is as a reset. It sort of brings an issue back to square one. So when PACS and Govt agencies get to the point where they pass laws that violate the basic Civil Rights guaranteed in those documents and on top of that, endeavor to apply rules that do not necessarily address the problems of environmental control, well that is when those agencies need to be disbanded or simply, if it is a privately funded PAC, not be supported.

      Of course everyone has a choice about what they will support. That is what makes this potentially a malleable system. But it will only change by the extent where with people will choose to engage it.

      I approved a few vitriolic comments above, all from the same person. Can you guess what group this person belongs to? If he sounds angry, it is because he should be. He was just found out. But as this works, his Natl overseers will claim no knowledge or control of him or his actions. That is just what they do.

      Of course he is entitled to his opinion and I am very happy to publish it here rather than delete it. This is the reality which generally goes on behind the scenes. People should know that.

  4. Eric, I’ve long known (from various fb posts/comments) that you and I are from the same planet 😉 – I’ve got nothing meaningful to add you guys said it all.

  5. Are you going to let that lie stand, Pu’u? Because you claim to be a “Journalist,” but anybody can check the facts themselves and see that John lied. Your journalistic integrity is at stake. Maybe you don’t care now that you’ve flip flopped to become a pro-corporate propagandist. Anyway, if you don’t acknowledge the fault, then get ready to be publicly pinned to the wall by the facts. On the Internet, that means Dave Pu’u is a Liar Forever, and I’m sure our good friends at Surfrider will be all too happy to help spread the word.

  6. Put my name out there too please, becuase Surfrider has already denounced me publicly at a meeting blasting a large photo of myself during rescue work at Mavericks. Tolerance is not part of the fabric of this group, so please put my name top front and center of anyone else. Surfrider has never nor will ever provide a public apology to myself or the rescue community and it has nothing to do about corporation, everything about respect and honor.

    • I love how they use “Mahalo and Aloha” Shawn. They will now have the very focused attention of what is left of the Hawaiian people. We do our jobs in spite of them and not due to any assistance on their part. That is a pity. But more than that, it is a travesty and a violation of my and your rights and insult to us and our tribes as stewards. Honor? I have seen pigs die with more honor than these people have shown our laws and fellow ocean goers. Seriously. I am done supporting them. Done.

  7. I remember when Surfrider was about clean water and beach access. They sent out test kits to it’s members to check the water quality at certain beaches. They would fight development from encroaching on beach access and ruining surf breaks. Now Surfrider is following the antiquated path of the Sierra Club chasing the dollar in return giving their stamp of approval from “All Surfers”. Well guess what, there is still crap in the ocean and development continues to hinder beach access (101 widening project). Now it just has Surfrider’s stamp of approval.

    The last time I met with Surfrider they didn’t care what the members had to say, they were more concerned with following the corporate agenda. The people running the show didn’t even grow up surfing or living near the ocean. It was all new to them. They just came armed with a degree in environmental science and a new found love of the ocean.

    John Mahu, did you grow up surfing, did you grow up near the ocean, did you grow up in Ventura or Santa Barbara? What do you really know about the ocean community? Or is that just a tag line you gave yourself to make you feel like part of the tribe?

    Surfrider is intent on making an enemy of everyone who disagrees with their agenda. Not because they are right, it’s because dissent hurts big donors’ feelings and that hurts Surfriders’ pocket book.

    • Eric S. You underscored much of the problems located in many large corporations. In this case I am sure the guy you refer to is an embarrassment. But when a corporation lets someone be in charge or speak for them, that portrays how their Architecture works. Reading (Mahu=Mahalo Funny) him was refreshing for me. Sort of like walking out of the flow of the offshores when they blow through the Mushroom farm at Santa Clara Rivermouth here: everything suddenly smells better.

      Onward. I am glad to put my entanglement straight and leave that political mess. Now there is no complicity for me in going forward.

  8. I went to a couple of those “Dog and Pony shows” for the MLPA. One in particular was a closed door meeting with Surfrider, F&G and some of the “Stakeholders”. Surfrider was completely in their pocket. It was interesting because the people re…presenting Surfrider were new to surfing, nor did not grow up anywhere near an ocean, but they did have enviroscience degrees. They really did not understand our opposition to the MLPA. When it was brought up that within the legislation surf access can be denied. There reply was it won’t happen. I replied, “well than have that portion removed from the legislation.” Which they replied, “there is no reason to remove it because it is highly unlikely.” My follow up was, “So you are saying that surf access can be denied?” There reply, “it is highly unlikely.” and that is how the conversation went. One big circle of denial. So what do you think of that John Mahu?

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