Portugal already destroyed 3 world class surf spots in the continent, Madeira and the Azores archipelagos. Moreover 10 surf spots have been damaged and the coastal environment continues to be in danger. The damaging of the Jardim do Mar point break in 2003 was so dramatic it motivated the onset of the Save Our Surf Coalition.
SOS – Salvem o Surf started 13 years ago as a civic movement, supported by a technical team to preserve surf spots and the coast against coastal works. We have 13 years of experience of saving waves and beaches against coastal development, of pioneering surf-economics and ‘value of wave’ studies and of working to make the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve a success. We are also quite experienced in surf spot quality, in multi purpose reef design, in including surfing in Environmental Impact Assessment and in climate change. Presently we are a legal Environmental NGO, with a strong scientific team including several PhDs.
As a civic movement SOS evolved from the SOS Santo Amaro, which began in 2002 and culminated in an agreement with the Camara Municipal de Oeiras who protected the wave at Santo Amaro. The pinnacle of SOS was in 2005 during SOS Carcavelos, where historically the Cascais Municipal Council decided, for the sake of surfing, to preserve the landscape and beach at Carcavelos. Our last successful action, in 2015, was to persuade the Harbour of Sines to stop extending his XXI terminal, thus saving the Sao Torpes beach and its 7 surf spots.
In 2008 we opted for the strategy of showing the value of surfing and participated in the study of an artificial surf reef project to value surf reefs. In 2009, we did the first surf-economic study in Portugal and forecasted an exponential growth of the surf economy in Portugal, based on tourism, which is actually happening.
In 2014 we opted for a new strategy to show surfing development needs, not only the physical preservation of surf spots, but also the preservation of a wider neighborhood, including natural landscapes and biological habitats.
However coastal projects continue to endanger surf spots and we are still starting new projects to find a permanent solution to our problems. There is so much urgent work remaining to be done here to preserve our coast against never-ending harbour extensions, coastal pollution and coastal constructions. The Atlantic coastline of Portugal is a natural wonder and we are doing our best to preserve it.