“I don't have an eye patch, parrot or wooden leg but I can assure you I am a Pirate.”
Hollywood paints a fairly dastardly picture of pirates as lying, thieving rogues with no moral compass. But we implore you to think again, as does Tony Cummins aka Captin Tonz, a genuine life long pirate. His story, though peppered with arrests, smuggling might just convince you that its possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason.
Anthony Brian Cummins was born in a pub in Cambridge, England in 1944. At the age of 14, he ran away to sea, sailing around the world with the old Blue star line. Arriving in South Africa, naive to apartheid laws, he was immediately arrested for talking to the native population. He was deported off to Mozambique, and having never seen an aeroplane before, was suddenly on one. At 17 he boarded a Swedish ship, learnt an array of marine skills which eventually caught the attention of a rival ship.
“That ship was owned by a Pirate Captain. I became a Pirate.
I've smuggled everything, except arms and I'm known for smuggling camels into Saudi Arabia. I've captured ships, I've stolen ships, and done all the things Pirates are supposed to do. I've been arrested in the USA, UK (so many times), Germany, Poland, Russia, Sweden. France, Cambodia, the Philippines and South Africa.”
So far, so pirate.
But pirates also have a a deep connection with the oceans and the creatures that inhabit them. They are alert to threats: natural and manmade. One such threat is dynamite fishing.
Dynamite fishing is an illegal fishing practice prevalent in the Philippines, whereby home made explosives are thrown into the sea to kill the fish. Tony and his crew were seeing an increase from 1 litre bombs to one gallon bombs. These detonations travel much faster underwater, deafening dolphins and turtles, decimating coral and other marine life.
Even with clear photographic evidence and files full of information. WWF, and numerous other NGOs didn’t want to know.
“Nothing happened and quite honestly one or two of these guys were quite abusive because we are pirates, the others just asked us to donate. I tried the President of the Philippines, the Senate and Congress, but nothing. We set up a website to try to get a campaign going, again nothing. After 2 years of trying every possible avenue we had no choice but to attack the dynamite detonator factory on a Samar Island and blow it up. We did this for no personal gain and at great danger to ourselves.”
That was in xxx
Now the time has come again to try and take action to help save our oceans from impact of man made materials. Micro-plastics are prevalent in rivers, lakes and oceans the world over. In a recent study the River Thames was found to have about 80 microplastic particles per litre. While the full impact is not known, studies have shown that they harm marine life and conservation bodies are in agreement that the time to act is now, before further detrimental effects can take root.
“Water is life, connect to the waters and you are connected to everything, unfortunately at the moment the seas are treated like shit.”
Tony is proposing a simple, natural solution to the problem of micro-plastics: temporarily repopulating the Thames with mussels.
A single mussel can filter up to 30 litres of water per day, meaning the potential for whole beds of mussels to clean thousands of litres of water each day is enormous. The mussels wouldn’t be used for human consumption, and would only be there temporarily. It is a solution that would need to be done in conjunction with efforts to reduce the flow of plastics into our water supply altogether.
Tony has put together a plan, mapping out the starting costs (£100k) logistics requirements and the possibilities for sponsorship and funding.
This is his rebellion.
“Mussels are the seas natural cleaners; all the need is a new broom”
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