Activist Spotlight
July 05 2017

Activist Spotlight: Ximena Waissbluth with the Monterey Chapter!

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

It was 2005, I was surfing at my home break when the new Central Coast Regional Manager paddled out, chatted me up then asked if I was interested in getting involved. I learned that the Monterey Chapter had been dormant for over a decade, so we would have quite the creative and strategic latitude in starting from the ground up, that was very enticing. That, coupled with the fact that I’d been noticing more and more litter at the beaches, was the right combination to get me involved. I’ve never looked back.

Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?

We have the unfortunate honor of having the last coastal sand mine in the U.S. here in southern Monterey Bay. It takes approximately 200,000 cubic yards of sand a year from the local sand budget, greatly exacerbating coastal erosion for many miles south of the plant. We are also spending a significant amount of time and resources on trying to keep an upcoming desalination plant as ‘ocean friendly’ as possible, and finally we see the usual problems stemming from storm water pollution, agriculture runoff and litter.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

Rise Above Plastics was a big one. What’s amazing to me is that I’ve given hundreds of presentations to schools and community groups about plastic pollution and its effects on the oceans and marine life, and I’m still bowled over by the information. I think it’s critical that we keep Rising Above Plastics. And most recently, we are on the precipice of seeing the California Coastal Commission reach a negotiated settlement with Cemex, the sand mining company, and once that happens it will be a huge victory for us.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

I’ve seen the grassroots ‘power of the people’ scenario play out several times over different campaigns, and I have to say it’s incredibly energizing. The first time for me was a restaurant Styrofoam take-out container ban in Pacific Grove, CA. We packed the city council chambers, and there were city council members who commented they’d planned on voting against the ban, but were swayed by the will of the people. We won unanimously, high fived all night then said OK- where to next?! We got bans all over Monterey County, and then in the County itself. 

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

We ARE you. We are mostly volunteers- people who have different jobs and hobbies and kids, etc, so join us, no experience necessary! We wouldn’t be where we are today without everyday people deciding it’s time to get involved.

Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender (or why is being a Surfrider coastal defender important to you)? 

A la Dr. Seuss, “I speak for the sea.”  The ocean is hurting, so many animals in the ocean are being hurt and we are the culprits. It simply seems to me that it’s just not fair. 

Q: Anything else? 

Thanks Surfrider!  Keep it going…

To get involved, find your nearest chapter at Surfrider.org/chapters!

You can help protect our coasts from every threat they face.

Your gift will help meet our goal of $500,000 by December 31!

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