Connecting the Drops

Ocean Ecosystem

Surfrider Foundation's ocean protection program

The Ocean Ecosystem Program protects and restores ocean ecosystems through a proactive approach to conservation. Our core areas of work include: Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Offshore Drilling, Renewable Ocean Energy, and Marine Spatial Planning. Please see below for more information.

Marine Protected Areas

Marine protected areas function as safe havens for marine life and provide areas where the ocean can rebuild and restore itself. Scientific research shows that marine protected areas (MPAs) can boost the abundance, diversity, and size of marine species living within their borders.

As a grassroots organization, Surfrider is engaged in both the planning and implementation of MPAs and fully protected marine reserves around the country.  Marine protected areas protect some of the best surfing spots in the country, from the California coast to the Hawaiian Islands and from the Florida Keys to Oregon.  These underwater parks enhance the overall experience of a variety of coastline activities by protecting biodiversity, wildlife abundance, and scenic viewsheds.  Thriving protected areas provide a richer environment for kayaking, diving, tidepooling and birdwatching. 

Ocean-lovers from all walks of life came together to create marine protected areas because MPAs have been proven to enhance the resilience of ocean ecosystems to withstand cumulative impacts of human and natural stressors (e.g., pollution, coastal development, fishing pressure, climate change, etc.).  Experience from around the world shows that the success of MPAs depends in part on local understanding and support for the designation. By providing outreach to ocean users and engaging citizens in planning and stewardship efforts, Surfrider chapters play an important role in ensuring the long-term success of these designations.

To read Surfrider Foundation’s Position Statement on Marine Protected Areas please click here.  For more information on California’s MPAs, click here and view a map here.
 
 

Offshore Drilling
The Surfrider Foundation is opposed to offshore oil drilling in new areas. Our nation’s oceans, waves and beaches are vital recreational, economic and ecological treasures that will be polluted by an increase in offshore oil drilling. Instead of advocating for transient and environmentally harmful ways to meet America’s oil needs, Surfrider believes we should seek a comprehensive and environmentally sustainable energy plan that includes energy conservation

Surfrider's Not the Answer campaign is focused on protecting our coasts from the risky practice of new offshore drilling through grassroots advocacy at the federal and state levels. Our chapter efforts included participation in Hands Across the Sand, an annual event where citizens join hands at beaches around the world to say no to offshore drilling and yes to clean energy. The primary goal of our Not the Answer campaign is to reinstate the federal moratorium on new drilling that was in place for decades until President Bush lifted it in 2008 and Congress subsequently allowed a federal ban on drilling to expire. For more information on Surfrider's Not the Answer campaign, please visit: http://www.nottheanswer.org/

Renewable Ocean Energy
Renewable Ocean Energy refers to sustainable means of generating electrical power that do not involve burning fossil fuels. Potential sources of energy in the ocean include solar, wind, waves, tides and geothermal energy.

In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in the development of these industries. Numerous projects have been proposed – and in some cases implemented - throughout the U.S. and world, encompassing a broad range of designs and locations.

The Surfrider Foundation recognizes that technologies that utilize ocean waves, tides, currents and wind may offer important benefits as renewable sources of energy that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. These alternative energy sources may also provide economic development through a cutting-edge industry for coastal communities.

Surfrider also recognizes that there are many questions and concerns about ocean energy, including potential impacts to ocean recreation, nearshore ecology, coastal processes, public safety, aesthetics, and fishing access.

The Surfrider Foundation has developed a Policy on Renewable Ocean Energy that articulates as set of ‘best practices’ for evaluating or planning for potential projects.

Marine Spatial Planning
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a public process that brings together different ocean stakeholders - including fishing, energy, government, conservation, and recreation – to make informed decisions about how to use the ocean sustainably. MSP uses maps to create a comprehensive picture of where and how an ocean area is being used, and what natural resources and habitats exist. Potential benefits of MSP include: reduced conflict among different uses, protection of the natural environment, and greater certainty for private industry and developers.
 
Across the country, states and regions are beginning to use marine spatial planning to address the many competing uses off their coasts. In particular, MSP is being used to identify locations for renewable energy projects that will reduce impacts on the environment and existing users (e.g., surfers, fishermen). Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Oregon are some of the states that have developed spatial plans for their ocean waters, with other states and regions in the U.S. now starting to follow suit.
 
The Surfrider Foundation believes that MSP provides an important opportunity to protect 'special places' such as ecological and recreational areas before they are threatened by potential development. On the West Coast, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic, Surfrider Foundation chapters are emerging as a key stakeholder in MSP efforts, representing recreational ocean users in the public planning process.
 
Surfrider's engagement in MSP includes:
- Participation of recreational ocean users
- Public outreach and education
- Mapping and data collection of non-consumptive uses
- Dialogue with other stakeholder groups
Share

Marine Protected Areas:

Policy and longer Position Statement on Marine Protected Areas

 

Ocean Energy Issues:

Policy on Offshore Oil Drilling

Policy on Renewable Ocean Energy

Not the Answer campaign page

Beachapedia Article: Offshore Oil Drilling

Beachapedia Article: Renewable Ocean Energy

 

Marine Spatial Planning:

Beachapedia Article: Marine Spatial Planning

Oregon Non-consumptive Recreational Ocean Use Study

 

Regional Ocean Conservation Programs:

California Ocean & Coastal Issues

Oregon Ocean & Coastal Issues

Washington Ocean & Coastal Issues

Marine Sanctuaries in Northern California Slated for Expansion

April 14 2014

Marine Sanctuaries in Northern California Slated for Expansion

Ocean Ecosystems Marine Protected Areas

The federal government is planning to expand two National Marine Sanctuaries in northern California. Please provide your public comments in support by the June 30 deadline

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2014 Campaign Priorities

March 11 2014

2014 Campaign Priorities

Ocean Ecosystems Rise Above Plastics Water Quality

Surfrider has three major areas of focus in 2014: Clean Water, Ocean Protection, and Rise Above Plastics. Read more to see our specific plans.

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Hands Across the Sand: Coming to a Beach Near You on May 17!

March 09 2014

Hands Across the Sand: Coming to a Beach Near You on May 17!

Ocean Ecosystems Ocean Energy

Do you want to see our coasts protected from offshore drilling? Then sign up to participate in Hands Across the Sand on May 17th, 2014!

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Atlantic ocean to become blast zone? Seismic testing for oil & gas nears approval

March 02 2014

Atlantic ocean to become blast zone? Seismic testing for oil & gas nears approval

Ocean Ecosystems Marine Spatial Planning Ocean Energy

The federal government is on the brink of approving dangerous seismic testing for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast. Please make your voice heard by submitting comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

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Commission Seeks  to “Lift the Fog on Fracking”

February 28 2014

Commission Seeks to “Lift the Fog on Fracking”

Ocean Ecosystems Water Quality

In August 2013, the Associated Press reported that oil companies have used hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and other types of “well stimulation treatments” to access oil beneath state and federal waters for decades without notifying state agencies that the practice has been occurring. This discovery was a big wakeup call that sent some regulators scrambling to figure out how fracking had occurred without their awareness. The California Coastal Commission, which has jurisdiction over oil and gas activities that occur in or affect state waters, was the first agency to step up. In August, the Commission vowed to investigate the undisclosed fracking and to identify potential actions it could take to address the issue.

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Congress Looks to Reduce Environmental Review of Beach and Water Projects

February 06 2014

Congress Looks to Reduce Environmental Review of Beach and Water Projects

Coastal Preservation Beach Dredge & Fill Shoreline Armoring Ocean Ecosystems

A committee of Senate and House members is negotiating the final version of the Water Resources Development Act which authorizes coastal restoration and engineering projects. Find out how you can influence the final version of the bill!

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Snowstorm Can’t Slow Ocean Planning in New England

February 05 2014

Snowstorm Can’t Slow Ocean Planning in New England

Ocean Ecosystems Marine Spatial Planning

Surfrider members attended the Northeast Ocean Planning meeting in Boston, MA on January 22-23 to advocate for protection of recreational and ecological areas off New England's coastline

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Cape Fear Chapter Leads Protest Against Seismic Testing

February 01 2014

Cape Fear Chapter Leads Protest Against Seismic Testing

Ocean Ecosystems Ocean Energy

Surfrider's Cape Fear Chapter led a protest against planned seismic exploration for oil and gas in the Atlantic ocean. Hundreds of people showed up at Kure Beach Town Hall to oppose the mayor's decision to support the federal government's proposal.

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Protect the Atlantic Ocean from Seismic Testing!

December 16 2013

Protect the Atlantic Ocean from Seismic Testing!

Ocean Ecosystems Ocean Energy

Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg wants you to take action to keep noise pollution out of the Atlantic Ocean. Please watch the video and sign the petition to oppose plans for seismic exploration in the Atlantic!

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San Onofre Energy Project Proposed (Again)

December 09 2013

San Onofre Energy Project Proposed (Again)

Ocean Ecosystems Ocean Energy

JD Products has again applied to develop an ocean energy project off San Onofre State Beach, just two years after its previous application was terminated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The proposed San Onofre Electricity Farm Project would involve the installation of up to 1,314 generation units in a project area of roughly 6 square nautical miles

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2013 Victories Recap

November 26 2013

2013 Victories Recap

Beach Access Coastal Preservation Ocean Ecosystems Rise Above Plastics Surf Protection Water Quality

As we close in on the end of another great year of coastal protection it seems appropriate to look back at the hard work that’s been done by Surfrider Foundation volunteers and staff. Our activists have been busy this year, racking up 33 campaign victories so far

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Launch of ActCoastal—the California Coast Accountability Project

November 21 2013

Launch of ActCoastal—the California Coast Accountability Project

Beach Access Coastal Preservation Ocean Ecosystems Surf Protection Water Quality

Surfrider members are “ocean users” through and through. It’s amazing to think that as I write this blog, there are Surfrider supporters around the world surfing, diving, fishing, SUPing, swimming, sunbathing, wildlife watching AND fighting to protect our coast. In California, Surfrider is upping our ante to preserve our coast and engage more Californians to participate in coastal issues. We recently joined forces with other organizations to launch ActCoastal—the California Coast Accountability Project. The premise of ActCoastal originates from the California Coastahttp://www.surfrider.org/images/uploads/blog/Hispanic_boy_on_beach.pngl Commission (CCC) vote chart Surfrider and colleagues have produced for over 20 years, where we monitor big items before the CCC and score their voting record. While the vote chart is useful, we wanted to make the concept more contemporary and exist in ‘real time’. To do that, we decided to launch a monthly score card and develop a website that functions as a clearinghouse for coastal advocates.

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Texas Lawmaker Leads Attack on our National Ocean Policy

October 26 2013

Texas Lawmaker Leads Attack on our National Ocean Policy

Ocean Ecosystems Marine Spatial Planning

Led by Rep. Bill Flores, the U.S. House has passed an amendment to obstruct implementation of the National Ocean Policy. The measure will now be considered by a committee of Senate and House members. Please contact your federal reps to tell them you support our National Ocean Policy

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New Film Explores Ocean Planning on Washington’s Pacific Coast

October 23 2013

New Film Explores Ocean Planning on Washington’s Pacific Coast

Ocean Ecosystems Marine Spatial Planning

A new short film explores the opportunity to protect Washington's Pacific coast through marine spatial planning. Featuring beautiful scenery of the Olympic Peninsula, the film makes a compelling case for surfers, beachgoers and other recreational users to get involved with the public process.

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California Delegation Shines Spotlight on Marine Protected Areas at International Conference

October 16 2013

California Delegation Shines Spotlight on Marine Protected Areas at International Conference

Ocean Ecosystems Marine Protected Areas Surf Protection Water Quality

If you’ve been lucky enough to go for a dive, surf, or kayak at the Channel Islands, it’s hard not to be captivated by the cathedral kelp forests, large fish cruising the reef, and clean waves breaking under your surfboard. These Islands, along with special places throughout the entire California coast, enjoy protections that allow the marine wildlife inside to thrive. Like underwater parks, the marine protected areas (MPAs for short) here act as safe havens for marine life and giant kelp forests that call southern California’s coastline home. And, the good news is that globally, MPAs are on the rise. There are over 6,000 MPAs worldwide, yet less than 2% of our oceans are protected.

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The golden age of coastal use mapping?

September 27 2013

The golden age of coastal use mapping?

Ocean Ecosystems Marine Spatial Planning

Driven by emerging uses of the ocean such as wave and wind energy, the Surfrider Foundation is conducting several new and upcoming ocean recreation studies across the country to inform ocean planning. Ocean planners are seeking this information on to develop plans that will protect existing uses of the ocean while finding space for new uses.

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Atlantic Seismic Decision Delayed Until Spring of 2014

August 19 2013

Atlantic Seismic Decision Delayed Until Spring of 2014

Ocean Ecosystems Ocean Energy

The Obama Administration has announced it will delay a final decision on whether to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean until March 2014. Seismic airgun testing would result in major impacts to marine wildlife and bring the Atlantic coast closer to the risky practice of offshore oil drilling. Please sign the petition to the Department of Interior!

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California Flips Over Fracking

August 16 2013

California Flips Over Fracking

Ocean Ecosystems Water Quality

The citizens of California recently learned fracking has been occurring in California waters (both state and federal). The revelation was shocking because government officials had previously asserted fracking was not being used off California’s coast. Surfrider is working with the two organizations that made the discovery to help raise awareness amongst the general public and to pressure regulatory agencies to not turn a blind eye on fracking.

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NOAA Seeks Input on Sanctuary Nomination Process

August 08 2013

NOAA Seeks Input on Sanctuary Nomination Process

Ocean Ecosystems Marine Protected Areas

The National Marine Sanctuaries Program has announced it plans to accept nominations for new sanctuaries. As the first step, NOAA is calling for public input on the criteria and process the agency would use to evaluate such proposals.

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Surfrider Launches Survey for Recreational Users in the Mid-Atlantic

July 06 2013

Surfrider Launches Survey for Recreational Users in the Mid-Atlantic

Ocean Ecosystems Marine Spatial Planning

Surfrider has launched on online survey to capture where people recreate along the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Please take a few minutes to participate!

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Pete Stauffer, Ocean Program Manager, pstauffer@surfrider.org