Save The Waves Coalition protects coastal ecosystems around the world through innovative strategies in partnership with local communities. Utilizing a unique combination of protected areas, economics, and direct action, Save The Waves partners with locals to preserve their coastal resources and in turn strengthen their communities.
Save The Waves’ mission is to protect and preserve the coastal environment with a focus on surf zones. They are always actively searching for new and innovative long-term solution to conserve our coasts. With this organizations incredibly noble and selfless acts, we desperately wanted to learn more about the process that goes into dedicating a beach. We chatted with Executive Director at Save The Waves Coalition, Nik-Strong Cvetich, about their goals, statistics, and plans for the future!
1. What is the criteria when selecting a beach to save?
I think I’d like to qualify the questions here. We have a saying around STW that came from the former California Coastal Commissioner Peter Douglas, “The coast is never saved, but always being saved”. In our case, we have a specific program called the “World Surfing Reserves” that help put into place local protection for the world’s best and most important surf spots. We select the each World Surfing Reserve based on four basic critieria; quality and consistency of the waves, environmental characteristics, history and culture, and local support and capacity.
2. What is the specific goal when “saving a beach?” to protect the environment? the beach? culture? marine life?
For me the ultimate goal is to protect the environment. In surf communities the waves and the environment shape the culture and the economy of a place. So by protecting the environment, you are protecting culture and the economy.
3. What does the process look like when saving a beach?
Again, to be clear the process for becoming a World Surfing Reserve is quite lengthy. Generally a community submits a Letter of Intent and is then a approved for a full application. In the full application, community details on how their wave or coast meets each of the criteria above, as well as demonstrating community support through letters of support. The applications are all reviewed at then voted upon by a 15 person international “Vision Council”. Once it is approved we work through creating a individual stewardship plan with the community and then we officially dedicate it a s World Surfing Reserve. This is what just happened on the Gold Coast the other week.
4. How much is the government involved in this process?
It is usually good to have the government involved or at least aware of the process, as they generally don’t like surprises. We have found that the World Surfing Reserves are a great tool to get people all working together toward one common goal.
5. How long does this process usually take?
It can take up two years depending on the complexity of the issues and the politics at work.
6. Do you have statistics on the beaches you have already saved?
We’ve seen a ton of benefits from the World Surfing Reserves. In the Gold Coast, the Mayor publicly declared that the World Surfing Reserve guaranteed there would be no cruise ship terminal ever built on the southern end of the Gold Coast (on top of Kirra specifically). In Peru, the World Surfing Reserve prevented a series of jetties from being built in the town of Huanchaco which would have destroyed the wave as well as the artisan fishing community. In Santa Cruz, it helped lobby the city government to tackle the beach with California’s worst water quality. In Mexico’s Bahia de Todos Santos, it has helped gain traction toward Baja’s first State Park.
7. How many beaches are you looking to save? What it the plan for the future of this organization?
Our goal is 10 World Surfing Reserves by 2017. We’d like to build the program to take on more locations simultaneously. We’d also like to create a conference to network all of the reserves together.
Again, this is one element of the work the Save The Waves does as an organization. We also have an app for surfers to help us gather data on coastal threats coming out in the next year, and a travelling film festival with surf and environmental films.
Be sure to learn more about this wonderful organization and their impact on the community by visiting their website at www.savethewaves.org