Visionary's bid to give our seas a secure future

Rodney Times, Tuesday 30 September 1997

Dr Floor Anthoni is a local man with a nationwide mission - a vast, ambitious and unyielding one. It is a notion sure to prompt scepticism from some quarters, but one which the staunch sea conservationist is dedicating his life to. Dr Anthoni plans to save New Zealand's seas. Together with his wife, he has embarked on a voyage, not of discovery, but one of recovery,

Dr Anthoni asserts that since the early 1980s, coastal seas have developed problems, and shellfish fisheries have closed frequently due to toxic algal blooms. "Our waters are becoming dirtier, and species are disappearing from many places," he says. "our fertile lands are washing into the sea at an alarming rate and it won't take long before there's little left to pass on to posterity."

A long-time diving fanatic, Dr Anthoni cashed in his successful computer job seven years ago and took up the torch of marine ecology - a move spurred on by concerns over changes to the sea. Having developed Seafriends, the successful Leigh-based restaurant and marine education centre, Dr Anthoni is now ready to take the next step. He has created a 30-year sea recovery blueprint plan to help foster a public mindset and improve the sea. To achieve this are three proposed nationwide bodies, the Seafriends Society, the Seafriends Foundation, and the Seafriends Corporation. To be governed by about 6 key people from all sectors of the community, the non-profit Seafriends Foundation will spearhead the organisation's activities. At the backbone of the movement is the Seafriends Society, open to public membership to allow anyone who wants to do something, to take part. The Corporation, in turn, will add business skills to the movement, raise funds and allocate them to selected projects.

In support of this is a raft of Seafriends proposals and initiatives, including a Seafriends Journal, marine directory, photographic library and conferences. There are also plans to create a school marine education curriculum, facilitated largely by a Seafriends presence ont he Internet to co-opt the enthusiasm of the young.

And to keep an eye on the sea and any changes, the couple have established the 0800-SEAFRIENDS line as a benchmark for future analysis.

Although ambitious, Dr Anthoni believes the Seafriends structure is necessary to bring all sectors of the community together to solve the immense problems before it. "This is a project, not motivated by money," he says, "but by a desire to save the sea." The project has already cost the couple $ 300,000 and six years work. "But it isn't a matter of cost and how much it will benefit ourselves, but rather what world we leave for our children."

And he expects to raise a few hackles: "Many of the statements and observations in the plan are on the cutting edge and scientists could easily be tempted to comment that they 'have not been proven'. I hope that they can, instead, provide evidence and proof, in favour or against, or point us in the right direction."

-- home -- back --

Comment, on a slight misuderstanding: The Seafriends Corporation runs the Foundation's facilities with business skills to produce a profit, which is returned to the Foundation, who decide on how to allocate funds.

The Internet site is for young and old, New Zealanders and foreigners. It documents our marine environment in all its glory and it makes people understand its functioning and needs.