Aussie's long paddle to target water pollution

 16:12:05.0300000 | 4.27.2011
The Australian, who heads up the Kite and Surf School in Mui Ne Town in the central coastal province of Binh Thuan drew inspiration for his journey from his adopted beachside home.

"I have been in Viet Nam for five years, and I wake up day after day seeing bag after bag that washes up on the shores in Mui Ne, and indeed around the world," said Rob at yesterday's press briefing in HCM City.

"I felt someone had to do something, someone had to raise awareness and someone had to spread the message to people about the importance of keeping the oceans and rivers clean," said Rob, adding that plastic bags take between 500 and 1,000 years to biodegrade.

His 230km journey will run from Chau Doc Town of An Giang Province bordering Cambodia along the Cuu Long (Mekong) River to Tra Vinh Province.

Research firm Cimigo shows that 24.5 per cent of people in HCM City and Ha Noi cite pollution as a major concern.

Plastic bags have become a serious concern of both Rob and environmental authorities nationwide, with the HCM City Waste Recycling Fund reporting in 2009 that the country's largest city alone generated over 50 tonnes of used plastic bags each day.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, each family in the country wastes one bag per day on average.

"Numbers like these caused me to adopt a campaign based on four key tenets: refuse plastic bags when they are offered to you at the market, reduce the number of bags you use, reuse bags once you have taken them, and recycle them once they have been used," said Rob.

His journey of 230km, expected to take 12 days, is believed to be the first of its kind in the world. It will be undertaken on an 11- foot stand-up paddleboard. A typical day will see Rob paddling around 20km.

Rob, 35, has applied to the Guinness Book of Records for recognition of this journey.
"Along the way I will be meeting with local schools, reporters, community organisations and governmental authorities to share my message and raise awareness of my mantra, nguon nuoc, nguon song. People talk about spring water, but I prefer to think that from water, life springs."

Tim Baxter, DHL-VNPT Express general director, first heard of Rob's journey when a newspaper carried an early story, and saw a tremendous opportunity to lend a hand to a worthy cause.

"It is an honour for DHL Express to be involved in Rob's voyage," said Tim. "We have a global commitment to Go Green, and Rob's journey embodies this. We share his passion for sustaining the natural beauty of Viet Nam, and for reducing polluting waste."

The company plans to support Rob with a boat, some daily costs, and several volunteers who will accompany him on the trip.

Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News