As part of efforts to protect waves around the world, Surfrider Foundation Europe (EU), Surfrider Foundation (US/INTERNATIONAL) Dr. Tony Butt (UK), in partnership with Save The Waves Coalition (US) Surfers Against Sewage (UK), Salvem o Surfer (PORT) and other partners, organized the first major international conference on the recognition of the value of the waves and their international protection. In attendance and participating were also Surfers’ Environmental Alliance (SEA) (US), WILDCOAST (MEX), National Surfing Reserves Australia (AUS), New Zealand Surfbreak Protection Society (NZ), Surfrider Japan (JAP), Surfrider Holland (HOL), a South Africa Environmental Educator (S.AF), a French socialist (FR), a Spanish Oceanographic Engineer (SP), and Surfing Federation of the Canary Island (SP), among others.
West Coast Environmental Project Director Jim Littlefield represented SEA at this ground-breaking international event. on October 24-25 in Biarritz, France and San Sebastian, Spain.
Jim reports: “This truly was an inspiring event focused on how to protect surfing coastlines worldwide from the effects of climate change and the impacts of increasing populations on the coast. I’m very pleased that SEA was part of this historic meeting of the minds, and I hope to continue partnerships with some or all of the many wonderful NGOs represented to work jointly on wave and coastal protection issues around the world.”
The following questions were raised, along with the conclusions that were reached, during the conference:
* How to set the value of a wave?
In addition to the recreational benefit that waves provide surfers worldwide, surf breaks also provide local economic benefits, such as food, lodging, and surf equipment.
* What are the threats on the waves and coastlines?
Coastal development that results in the modification of existing surf breaks, such as harbor development, breakwaters, beach fill, and dredging were all key concerns. Additionally, direct and nonpoint source pollution were addressed. Delegates from Japan discussed how a local surf break in front of a nuclear power plant was destroyed by the tsunami earlier this year, resulting in the first known wave lost to radiation.
* What strategies can be implemented to protect them?
The key theme was that we must be proactive. We must attempt to protect the existing breaks before they are threatened, such as the establishment of the National Surfing Reserves in Australia and the World Surfing Reserves Program. Conference attendees also discussed strategies regarding how to best engage the community, government, businesses, and surf-related groups to protect existing surf breaks.
As a direct result, conference attendees realized that we all have issues in common, no matter where we may live: wave destroying “improvement projects”; pollution; governments not respecting surfers as a legitimate concerned group and thus weakening our political voice, for example. Serious discussion is ensuing regarding forming an international “steering committee or council” to work together, speaking with one global voice, on projects to save waves and protect natural coastal resources. SEA hopes to be a part of this forming international group, and to jointly fight for waves and public access wherever the problem exists.
Further information, as well as videos of the actual presentations, is available at the conference website:http://www.globalwaveconference.com/
This conference was a huge step for global waves protection, and SEA looks forward to working closely with fellow organizations and activists to conserve the surfing coastline for generations to come.
West Coast Environmental Projects Director, SEA