Another way to protect an area containing good surfing waves is with a surfing reserve. If implemented in a similar way to a bird sanctuary or other type of nature reserve, the surfing reserve could make sure that, at least, certain ‘iconic’ surfing waves are protected forever. The concept was first introduced in Australia way back in 1973.
Even though declaring a spot a surfing reserve in theory won’t stop somebody coming along and destroying a wave if they really wanted to, the high-profile recognition of a spot will make a lot more people sit up and take notice if something negative starts to happen.
In the UK, surfing reserves could be integrated into sustainable development practices managed alongside the environmental, societal and economic fabric of local communities.
World Surfing Reserves
World Surfing Reserves, a programme of Save The Waves, proactively identifies, designates and preserves outstanding waves, surf zones and surrounding environments around the world. The programme serves as a global model for preserving wave breaks and their surrounding areas by recognizing and protecting the key environmental, cultural, economic and community attributes of surfing areas.
A good example of protecting a key surfing area is the Surfrider Foundation‘s Save Trestles campaign, where surfers of all walks of life came together to fight a toll road that threatens the pristine natural watershed (catchment) of San Mateo Creek that geologically creates the perfect reef breaks of Trestles.
The Protect Our Waves Petition
In October 2013, Surfers Against Sewage campaigners were accompanied by double Brit Award winner Ben Howard to deliver the the Protect Our Waves petition to No 10 Downing Street, representing the call of 55,000 surfers for better protection of UK surfing habitats.
The Protect Our Waves petition received tens of thousands of signatures of support, highlighting the importance of UK surfing resources to coastal communities nationwide. The petition called for better protection for the coastal environment and those that use it. The focus of the petition is a call for amendments to legislation to better control sewage pollution, marine litter and damaging coastal developments & industry.
Surfers Against Sewage believes that waves and surf spots deserve to be seen as part of UK heritage and should be afforded greater recognition and protection through debate and legislation. Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive, Surfers Against Sewage
The petition enabled the formation of the Protect Our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), bringing together Members of Parliament representing the majority of the UK’s key coastal communities, to address the most urgent environmental issues highlighted by the Protect Our Waves petition – marine litter, water quality and coastal development.
Laws are needed to specifically protect surfing waves. In the UK, developers already have to go through an expensive and time-consuming process to get planning permission, and this includes conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
If there were proper laws stating that surfing waves cannot be interfered with or destroyed, it would be in the developers’ own interest to avoid putting their concrete in the wrong place. At the moment, no law exists in the UK to protect surf spots, but it does in one country: Peru. Peru has a history of surfing culture that goes back almost as far as Hawaii, and surfing is seen as a respectable and worthwhile pastime, unlike in many parts of Europe or indeed much of the rest of the world.