If you think there`s politics in the surfing industry in SA, you should check out what goes on here.
As some of you know, the world famous lefts of macaronis is currently being regulated and controlled by the macaronis resort with assistance from the local village on the island. This is very bad news for charters carrying guests that pay big money to come and surf their dream wave.
I sat down in the wheel house with my boss and long time surf guide on the Kaimana, Shayne Whitfield. I wanted to pick his brain on the issues that Kaimana guests and all the other surf charters in the Ments are facing at Macca`s right now.
SB: So Shayno, how long have you been guiding out here for?
SW: This is my eighth season out here on Kaimana.
SB: How many boats are running surf charters in the Ments to date?
SW: I would say about 20 boats operating during peak season, but I have heard figures of 40 plus boats. I know they are counting boats that are in port and haven`t been out on charter in over 8 years.
SB: How does the mooring system work in the bay at Maccas?
SW: The village operate a booking system on 2 mooring spots for 2 boats in the bay at Macca`s per day. These spots need to be booked about a month in advance, and paid for on arrival at the mooring.
The fee is 300 000 rupiah (R300), for the day. Boats can come into the area and anchor early morning without a booking, but they will be chased out at 7.30am without a mooring.
SB: Is this an official government law and how do rules like this come into action?
SW: It is called Parde 16. This is a law that restricts any other resort or tourism business from being set up within a 1 km radius of the existing Macaronis resort. The resort is stating that our boats are businesses encroaching on their 1km restricted area.
SB: When did this action to limit charter boats start?
SW: They started their nonsense about 4 years ago. It was put into action by the Macaronis resort, with assistance from the local village, Silabu. This obviously caused a lot of shit for boat charters out here. Try telling your guests that have paid big money to come out here …Hey sorry bru, but this spot is out of bounds for boats that haven`t booked.
Disaster struck in 2010 and the resort was washed away by the tsunami, this put them out of business for the year, including the moorings. For this year, the charter boats operated as smoothly as they had 4 years before, being able to cruise in and out throughout the day, rather than mass exit at 7.30am causing congestion and overcrowding at nearby spots.
SB: Surely the village would be making more money if they allowed more boats into the area every day?
SW: Of course they would. But the resort pretty much has the village by the short and curlies. The villagers rely on the resort for their livelihood, and the resort sells itself on it’s exclusivity to Maccas. If they didn’t have this trump card, they might go under, and leave the villagers without work.
We pretty much pay to surf most areas in the Mentawis now. Back in the day we would make a donation to the village closest to the surf spots we were visiting regularly, but everyone wants a piece now and its all getting a bit out of hand.
SB: What will happen in the future if this Maccas problem doesn’t get sorted out?
SW: The resorts and villages around Mentawis will all start trying to enforce the Parde 16 law with their resorts. Kanduis resort actually tried to pull this off a couple years ago and were instantly shut down by the Navy in the area. If every well known spot in the Ments is controlled by a resort and village mooring system, this will become too expensive for us to operate our charters and will kill the whole boat charter industry. Imagine being limited and told where you can and cannot surf every day on a boat trip?
SB: What’s the deal with the locals claiming that the boats anchoring in the area over the years have destroyed the coral reefs with their anchors?
SW: This is total bullshit that the resort owner has spun their guests and the village! You can dive down in the area where we have been anchoring and see that the whole bay, except right next to the island where the waves break is all sand. If anything, the resort is guilty of smashing a way through the coral reef to their resort for boat access!
SB: What’s the feeling amongst the 20 or so boats operating charters here on the issue and what are you guys planning to do about it?
SW: We are really pissed off about the whole thing, obviously. We have had locals threaten to burn boats down when they have refused to move out of Macca`s bay after 7.30am. We were here from the beginning. We have contributed to the local economy in the Ments for the past 20 years. We were the ones that helped the areas affected by the tsunami, by bringing supplies, doctors etc.
We have gotten the navy involved in our quest to “free Maccas”. All charter companies have contributed to bringing 8 navy soldiers from Padang out to Maccas, where they will set up camp on the island, with a speed boat and ensure that the charter boats that want to stay for the day at Maccas, don’t get chased out by the village and resort authorities. We don’t mind paying 300 000 Rupiah to the village to surf there for the day, but this law is apparently bullshit according to the navy, is against all maritime laws and they want to put an end to it.
SB: So the resort claims to guests that they have exclusivity on Maccaronis?
SW: Ja, they want to try and own a wave! Kinda like Tavarua pulled off for years.
SB: Shot for your time deek! Closing question: What do you miss more ? Bunny chows or SA girls?
SW: Probably Bunny Chows hey. SA`s dolls are way too high maintenance! Haha