Did you say “Surfonomics”? Is there really a Global Conference about Waves? These were some of the questions friends and acquaintances asked when they heard I was heading to San Diego and then crossing the border to Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico to attend the III Annual Global Waves Conference. The conference, a three-day event, was coordinated by Wildcoast, Surfrider Foundation Europe, and Surfrider Foundation. Its main purpose was to discuss and develop strategies to take a networked approach to working together on issues such as:
- Threats to the waves
- Wave protection programs
- Surfonomics and the economic value of the waves
- Wave protection for everybody and by everybody
- Politics, institutions & wave protection
- Role of surfers/ocean recreation in wave and environmental protection
- Wave protection: cases studies and success stories
Presenters from 10 different countries taught us about:
- Baja California and US-México border case studies
- Surfonomics: the economics of surfing
- Proactive strategies and innovative programs to protect waves
- New tools for surf protection
- Cases of world-wide on the ground action for wave protection
In the evenings, more in-depth discussions took place over dinner and during the mornings conversations were taking place in the surf lineup. Although the waves weren’t amazing, many attendees were stoked to grab sunrise surf sessions. As for myself, well, let’s just say I was dreaming of warm tropical Costa Rican waves.
Also attending the conference from Costa Rica was Damian Martinez, the national coordinator for the project “Consolidation of Marine Protected Areas”. Both Damian and I attended the conference to learn more about surfonomics and wave conservation, with the ultimate goal of bringing back to Costa Rica the knowledge and skills to develop a surfonomics study. Our presentation at the conference was focused on sharing information about the importance of surfing, surf tourism, and the protection of waves in Costa Rica. We also highlighted the lack of available surf tourism data in Costa Rica and how important data collection and analysis will be for the Costa Rican ministries of tourism and the environment so they can better understand surf tourism, wave protection, and wave conservation strategies such as national and world surf reserves.
After the conference we were kindly invited to the Surfrider Foundation offices in San Clemente to discuss surf tourism and surfonomics in greater detail with Chad Nelsen, Environmental Director for Surfrider, and Jess Ponting, director of the Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University.
The following are just some of the takeaways from the conference:
- A signed joint statement of wave protection representing many of the leading surf protection NGOs around the globe.
- Large support for Surfers Against Sewage’s Protect our Wave campaign, which is an effort to get the UK parliament to include surf protection in their four primary environmental laws through an effort called Global Wave Wednesday on Wednesday, May 15th. Check out the link to the petition: https://www.protectourwaves.org.uk
- Discussion on the idea of writing a Global Waves Threats and Protection Strategies report that would be a collaborative effort to help support wave conservation around the globe.
- Agreement to have the next Global Wave Conference in 2015 in the UK. Collaborators have already started to work together to develop an action plan between now for the creation of a number of practical tools to help support surf protection.
We look forward to collaborating with the newly formed Global Wave Protection Network (please follow the link and “Like” their Facebook page) and hope to participate in the IV Global Waves Conference in 2015!