Surfers and surf life-savers say the actions of the driver of
a boat which they say did ''donuts'' within metres of surfers
at St Clair on Saturday were inappropriate and risky, but the
fisherman involved says he did nothing wrong.
Surf life-savers speak to fishermen sitting off St Clair
during an anti-drilling protest at the weekend. Photo by
Two boats, a 14m commercial fishing vessel and a smaller
pleasure boat, both draped with banners from pro-drilling group
ProGas Otago, sat just off St Clair Beach while an
anti-drilling protest was held on the beach.
The Otago Surfing Championships and Otago Surf Life Saving
Championships were also being held nearby.
Witnesses saw surf life-savers speak to the men on the boats,
the larger of which was shortly afterwards seen doing what
witnesses described as ''donuts'' in the water.
The surf life-savers spoke with the fishermen again, and the
boat left at speed minutes later.
When contacted, Grant Godbaz, secretary of the South Coast
Boardriders Association, which was hosting the Otago Surfing
Championships, said the incident was a ''recipe for
He said the boat did its turns within about 20m of surfers,
who were genuinely concerned for their safety.
He was not sure if what the boat did was legal. St Clair Surf
Life Saving Club president Antony Mason said surf life-savers
had spoken with the fishermen because of concerns about the
safety of people in the water.
Neither group, however, was going to take the matter further,
as the boat left without further incident.
A spokesman from Edmonds Fishing, which owns the bigger boat,
Juggernaut, said only a board used to fillet fish on the
other boat was rinsed into the sea and no guts were thrown
The man, who did not want to be named, denied he had done
''donuts'' and had no other comment other than that he was an
experienced fisherman and had not done anything unsafe.
Andrew Whiley, a Dunedin city councillor and ProGas Otago
spokesman, said he was disturbed to hear about the concerns
of the surfers.
The aim of the pro-gas presence at the protest had been to
deliver a simple message in a non-confrontational way, he
He was there, but had not seen the whole incident.
He said the fishermen were associates of a member of the
He was satisfied they would not have done anything that would
have risked their commercial reputations, but if they were to
participate in any action for ProGas again they would be
asked to take a ''much more conservative approach''.
CORRECTION: No water from a board used for gutting
fish was rinsed into the sea from a boat involved in
Saturday's drilling protest off St Clair Beach, as reported.
The gutting process, including the cleaning of boards, took
place inside the boat.