Leveraging America’s Cup to clean Hauraki Gulf

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For the Rio 2016 Olympics, it was an opportunity for the locals to utilize the world spotlight to reduce the pollution which plagued Guanabara Bay. Now it’s Auckland’s turn to leverage the 2021 America’s Cup to improve their water quality.

A daily drain of toxins, plastics, and sediments is degrading the Hauraki Gulf which is a marine reserve, home to 50 islands, boasts a 600-year-old volcano, and parts of it will host the America’s Cup racing.

GulfX is a new project, run by the Sustainable Business Network, aiming to stop pollution caused by heavy metals flowing into the water from the land.

Chief executive Rachel Brown said the plan was to use international events like the America’s Cup, and the pressure of the world’s eye on New Zealand’s oceans, to stimulate investment from businesses and action to restore the Gulf.

“At the first bit of rain, the Hauraki Gulf goes messy and muddy and you can see plastic bags floating in it, we don’t want the world to see that,” she said, in which its unhealthy state sends a negative message about New Zealand.

While people were aware of over-fishing and waste water spills, not a lot of people were aware of the daily drain of toxins, and sediments. Copper leaches from brake pads, anti-fouling paints on boat hulls and metal works, and zinc from rusty roofs – it all drains into the Hauraki Gulf. This is already on top of already existing pollution.

“It’s a national treasure and it is being treated more like a running sewerage pipe,” she said. “We want to stimulate a creative, innovation platform with GulfX for the ideas to come from. We are at a turning point. Awareness is really high, so we can change a whole bunch of things. That’s our mission.”

Neil Sayer, CEO of Stormwater360, is one of the businesses to get behind GulfX since the launch a month ago. Sayer said the two organizations shared a vision for storm water and green infrastructure solutions.

“Notwithstanding upcoming international events, the Gulf is a key treasure and must be protected and restored,” he said. “The deadline for the America’s Cup is certainly realistic, despite the huge amount of work to be done.

“The days of ‘motherhood sustainability statements’ must be left behind, and I urge both industry and the public sector to be on board. It is a matter of urgency that plans are galvanised into real action.”

GulfX is a new project for the Sustainable Business Network, an already established network of over 600 business. Transport, plastic, boats and roofs are some of the immediate changes citizens can make to help this change.

To sign up to become a supporter… click here.

Source: stuff.co.nz / sailingscuttlebutt

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