Disappearance of waves, closing down of beaches, health risks, limited access to surf spots, extreme weather patterns, all of these factors are as many threats hanging over surfing or any ocean-related activity. What are the causes? Disturbing climate change, irrational coastal developments and constant deterioration of water quality.
Recreational areas and practitioners in danger! How bad is it?
Disturbing climate change
The rising of sea levels, the decreasing of surface winds, the shifting mechanisms that create swells, the repeating storms and floods… The ocean is contributing to climate regulation as it absorbs most of the greenhouse gases and stores thermal energy. However we have noticed that overconsumption of this gas has gradually reduced its regulation capacity. Such climate imbalance generates many changes in currents, winds, swells and waves. All this could eventually have a great impact on our ocean-related sports. What would become of our surf spots if winds ever ceased, if swells were inexistent or if currents were out-of-control …?
Irrational coastal developments
Mundaka (Spain), Trestles (USA, California), Bells Beach (Australia)… these familiar names represent worldwide famous waves that were all at risk of disappearing because of coastal artificialization. Both solid structures development – such as port extensions or the creation of wind farms, and coastline environment changes – such as dredging, sand or aggregate extraction and river renaturation, are the most common large-scale projects. They are launched without thorough studies on the social consequences or the impact they can have on local heritage and practitioners, and therefore often generate conflicts of uses. Beyond environmental protection, the local economy is also at stake; a surf spot is not just a mere playground it also brings social and economic value thus benefiting local communities.
Constant deterioration of water quality
Litter, chemical and bacteriological contamination as well as oil spills have such significant impact on the marine environment. They also can put our health at risk. The water quality of lakes, rivers, and oceans has tremendously worsened over the years and the hazard of having restricted access to our surf spots is most likely to increase. The current legislation still does not consider watersports enthusiasts in its studies – imposing water quality to be monitored only in swimming areas and only during summer season. This is why Surfrider has been analyzing water quality for almost 15 years to inform its users all year long. According to research conducted during pollution peaks, the presence of contaminants does constitute a threat for our health once contact with water has been made. These microorganisms pathogenic to humans are likely to provoke illness such as gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis, ear and skin infections.
Climate change, coastline development, ocean contamination are all factors linked to the decline of the number of available surf spots, whereas the number of practitioners is on the rise.
Watersports under threat! Which solutions?
Surfrider has been campaigning to pressure local, French and European institutions. Our goals in this process are as follows: to ensure that EU States reach a global ambitious climate agreement, to enable serious awareness of the coastal environment and its communities when making shoreline development decisions, to make acknowledged by UNESCO the outstanding value of waves and surfing as natural and cultural heritage and finally to improve water quality in recreational areas.
Today, Surfrider requests your support so that we can be one voice stronger to maximize our leverage in climate negotiations. To make sure that your interests are taken into account, Surfrider is fully committed to becoming a spokesperson for the watersports community and will be representing you at best in its lobbying action plan. The protection of our surf breaks needs a joint effort for one single cause: to preserve our passion and our rights.
Let’s join forces to be heard!
To make sure that your spot won’t be the next to disappear: Sign our pledge!