Australian expat to paddle against plastic pollution

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Rob Kidnie loves to surf.

The Australian national spent the last eight years of his life careening through the waves up and down the South East Asian coastline.

His passion for water sports brought him to Mui Ne, where he now works as a surfing instructor.

In addition to traditional surfing and kite surfing, Kidnie began tackling the waves of Mui Ne's back beach on his big stand-up paddle board - an ancient Hawaiian conveyance that is now enjoying a revival.

Kidnie developed a love for the water - one that has blossomed into an environmental conscience.

This May, Kidnie will ride his paddleboard down the Mekong river to raise awareness about one of his biggest bugaboos. 

"In my travels I am often sickened by the amount of rubbish that I see in the oceans, waterways and on the beaches," Kidnie said. "I have thought long and hard about what I could do to help this situation."

One of the most persistent problems in the world's waterways has been plastic specifically the plastic bags that people use and discard every day. Kidnie plans to paddle about 20km a day down the Mekong River from Cambodia through Chau Doc and Can Tho.

He hopes to speak to local people about the dangers of marine litter.

Scientists say that plastic bags are consumed by 311 species of marine birds and animals dispersing persistant chemicals and pollutants into the aquatic food chain. Those bags that are not consumed float down rivers and into the open ocean, where they eventually break down into toxic chemical components.

"The paddle down the Mekong River is a challenge that I would relish in itself, but I see this as a golden opportunity to raise awareness for the need for cleaner oceans, waterways and beaches," Kidnie said. "So I'm trying to get in contact with as many like minded people as I can to help and support [an effective cleanup effort]."

After receiving great feedback about the paddle that will end where one of the Mekong's branches empties into the East Sea in Vietnam, Kidnie has begun a search for sponsors and an NGO or organization that could use the money raised to clean up marine debris or raise awareness about marine litter.

Kidnie's publicist says that following some early publicity, interested parties have already started reaching out to them.  Those interested in supporting the effort should contact rob@kite-n-surf.com or (04) 1267 194 923.

The two-week journey is being planned for early May before the June wet-season.

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