Surf and Ocean Conservation

Illustration: Viscaya Wagner

Illustration: Viscaya Wagner

The awe-inspiring coastlines we all love so much are under serious threat. Surfers are among those who see and experience ocean pollution first-hand, and it is now becoming more clear than ever that these lands might not still be around for future generations to enjoy. 

Pro surfers have now become advocates for cleaner oceans. There are currently dozens of non-governmental organizations run by surfers.

Here are the most impactful surf nonprofit organizations aimed towards protecting the world’s oceans and coastal environments:

1. Surfrider

Founded by a group of surfers turned environmentalists, the Surfrider Foundation has been fighting to protect the beaches and oceans worldwide since 1984. The California-based nonprofit organization allows people to connect and participate in coastal conservation efforts. Surfrider Foundation is the oldest surf-based environment-focused organization.

Through their strong media presence, they strive to ensure clean and healthy oceans by supporting water-quality testing, beach cleanups, community projects, dune grass planting, and fighting against plastic marine pollution.

2. Save the Waves

Save the Waves is a global nonprofit organization that seeks to address a large number of concerning environmental issues. Based in Davenport, California, they have a strategic game plan to protect coastal regions by focusing on the surf spots.

Famous surf spots are threatened by harbors, jetties, coastal armoring, and breakwaters, which can cause the waves to disappear altogether and the ecosystems to face irreparable damage. In fact, the coalition was born after a perfect world-class wave was damaged by backwash on the island of Madeira in 2001.

3. Surfers Against Sewage

A grassroots movement dedicated to protecting the UK’s coastlines, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is an environmental charity founded in 1990. Through volunteering programs, community action, conservation, campaigning, education, and scientific research, they empower communities to take action to protect beaches, marine life, and surf spots.

Their main focus is cleaning the beaches from sewage, but now they are working on marine plastic pollution too. According to them, “Plastic pollution is the ‘new sewage’. Tackling it is our number one priority.

4. Wildcoast

Based in Imperial Beach, California, Wildcoast is an international group that aims to conserve the coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife around California and Latin America. They are fighting to “conserve more than 31.9 million acres of globally significant wild coastlines, islands, lagoons, and oceans.”

Through educating local communities, advocating for conservation policies, and establishing and managing protected areas, Wildcoast is trying to reduce the impact of climate change, conserve coral reefs, prioritize sewage treatment, and protect wetlands and coastal wildlands.

5. Take3

Founded in 2009 by surfing enthusiast Amanda Marechal, marine ecologist Roberta Dixon-Valk, and environmentalist Tim Silverwood, Take3 is an Australia-based nonprofit organization with a simple yet loud message: “Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway… or anywhere special, and you’ve made a difference.”

6. 4Ocean

It all started with a surf trip to Bali, where young surfers Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze were devastated by the amount of plastic in the ocean. They needed to create something that would support the cleanup efforts, and that’s how the 4Ocean Bracelet was born.

4Ocean bracelets are made using 100% recycled materials and have a unisex design. With the money raised from selling these bracelets, 4Ocean employs cleanup crews to clean our oceans and coastlines seven days a week.

Illustration: Viscaya Wagner website
Sources: Surfrider link - Book Surf Camps link

Ocean, PollutionNiccolo Gorfer