BERLIN — Earlier this year, hundreds of kayak activists took to the water in Seattle to protest Shell’s oil drilling in the Artic. Just last week a similar on-the-water (and from the bridge) gathering kept a drilling rig supply ship from leaving for the Artic from Portland. In light of the pending proposal to open the mid-Atlantic to offshore drilling and other threats to water quality, local environmental groups are looking to bring some of that “kayaktivist” energy to Ocean City.
On Friday, Aug. 14, Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) is partnering with Waterkeeper Alliance, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and others for “Float for the Coast,” an on-the-water rally in support of clean water. The float will be part celebration to embrace the water quality protections that allow thousands of locals and visitors alike to recreate safely in our Coastal Bays. It will also be part demonstration to educate and raise awareness about the ongoing and looming threats to our fragile coastal waters. There are no plans to block boats or hang from bridges, however.
The event will feature a gathering of water craft of all shapes and sizes manned by representatives of regional Waterkeeper programs, allied organizations and the clean water loving public that will paddle (or motor) to convene for a group celebration on Isle of Wight Bay just offshore from the Roland E. Powell Convention Center where the Maryland Association of Counties will be holding its annual summer meeting.
“Water shapes our lives and is the driving force for our coastal economies, said Kathy Phillips, the Assateague Coastkeeper and ACT’s executive director. “But increasingly, our water is in danger and our most precious resource needs our help. It’s easy to take for granted the many benefits we enjoy from clean water, and this event is intended to remind ourselves about these gifts and to raise awareness among the public and policymakers about the threats facing this fragile resource.”
The Float for the Coast will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Fish Tales Bar and Grill/Bahia Marina located bayside on 22nd Street in Ocean City. The rally will convene at noon in Isle of Wight Bay adjacent to the Convention Center.
Once assembled, participants will hear from several speakers, including David Helvarg, executive director of Blue Frontier, author of Blue Frontier, The War Against the Greens, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean, Rescue Warriors, and others.
Helvarg is also an award-winning journalist who has produced more than 40 broadcast documentaries for PBS, The Discovery Channel, and others, is editor of the Ocean and Coastal Conservation Guide and organizer of ‘Blue Vision’ Summits for ocean activists and the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards.
Once the rally concludes, participants will make their way back to Bahia Marina, where all will be welcome to refresh themselves at a a happy hour, sponsored by Sweetwater Brewing at Fish Tales.
The public is encouraged to join in the float for free by bringing their kayak, standup paddleboard, canoe or any legal watercraft to the official launch site (or to an appropriate site of their choice) and enjoy a few hours on the bay while learning about some of the challenges facing our local waterways. ACT will have a limited number of loaner kayaks available for those who wish to participate but don’t have access to their own boat.
The public is strongly encouraged to register online in advance for the event at www.actforbays.org to ensure they get a free commemorative T-shirt and especially if they need to borrow one of the limited loaner kayaks.