Surfer as activist

Probably more than any other sport, surfing creates (or attracts)  environmental activists.

Surfers gather en masse to protest a proposed natural gas pipeline in California.

One of the best examples of this is the main surf activism organization, Surfrider. With more than 50 000 members, Surfrider is able to implement their mission of “protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves, and beaches through a powerful activist network” at an international level, with chapters throughout the  United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Europe, and Brazil. Surfrider chapters take part in beach cleanups, water quality tests, and community outreach programs, all of which garnered the attention of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), who in 2005 awarded Surfrider with the Walter B. Jones Award for Non-Governmental Organization of the Year, which recognizes outstanding contributions toward helping to protect coastal and ocean resources while balancing human needs.

Graphic, but effective advertising campaign for improving sewage treatment by Surfers Against Sewage

One particular area that Canadian surfers have been active in, is the improvement of sewage treatment in Victoria BC. Victoria pumps 130 million litres of raw sewage daily into waters just off Victoria’s harbour, and thanks to efforts from concerned citizens, mascots, non-governmental organizations, and the local government, Victoria is getting a much needed upgrade. Sewage outfall is of particular concern for the direct impacts it has on surfers, but also the direct and indirect effects on the environment. Treatment of wastewater removes many toxic chemicals (e.g. metals, pharmaceuticals, flame retardants), which otherwise make their way into the environment, where they persist and have the potential to accumulate up the food chain. With a growing population in Victoria, dilution can no longer be the solution to pollution, in Victoria or anywhere.

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