Beach Access, Coastal Preservation, Ocean Protection, Plastic Pollution, Water Quality
December 31 2018

Surfrider’s New Year’s Resolution: Together We Will Protect Our Coasts

by Pete Stauffer

We call upon all Americans to protect our coasts and ocean from threats like plastic, offshore drilling, water pollution and climate change. Together we are the United States and Oceans of America #USOA.

The Surfrider Foundation was founded 35 years ago on the premise that people who love the coast should protect it. As a grassroots organization, we’re more than just a coastal advocacy group (although our record-breaking 82 victories last year wasn’t too shabby); Surfrider is about empowering people to make a difference. Our volunteer network of more than 170 chapters and clubs protects thousands of miles of U.S. coastline through local education, advocacy, and stewardship. 

Surfrider’s efforts in 2019 will be more important than ever. Our coasts are increasingly threatened by plastic pollution, degraded water quality, harmful coastal development, and the impacts of climate change. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is working to roll back federal protections and expand offshore drilling. Our nation’s coasts are our playgrounds where we surf, swim and play. They’re where we live and visit and the backbone of our economy and way of life. 

We are the United States and Oceans of America from Surfrider Foundation on Vimeo.

That’s why Surfrider and our network of coastal defenders will stand up to fight for our coasts and ocean in 2019. Despite the many threats to the coastal places we love, we enter the new year with both optimism and stoke. Our chapter and club network – the engine of our grassroots efforts - has never been stronger. And, our new Strategic Plan provides a worthy roadmap for advancing coastal conservation in the 21st century.

This year, Surfrider will focus on 5 goals to protect our ocean, waves, and beaches. We invite you to join us in our efforts by volunteering with your local chapter or club and renewing your membership. 

1) Protect Clean Water so it's Safe to Surf and Play in the Ocean

Water quality at our beaches is threatened by pollution, causing 20,000 health advisories to be issued each year. Surfrider pledges to protect coastal water quality by building awareness of local pollution problems and advocating for solutions. With 45 volunteer-run water testing labs across the U.S., our Blue Water Task Force will monitor over 400 beaches and perform more than 5000 water quality tests this year. Our chapter network will install at least 25 Ocean Friendly Gardens to help solve local pollution problems caused by stormwater runoff. In addition, Surfrider will wage advocacy campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels, including our Stand Up for Clean Water campaign to defend the Clean Water Act and critical federal programs that protect the public health of beachgoers.

2) Keep Plastic Pollution out of the Marine Environment

Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to the health of ocean ecosystems. In 2019, we will pass and defend local, state and federal policies that keep plastic bags, cigarette butts, foam, and other forms of plastic trash out of the environment. Through our Ocean Friendly Restaurants program, we will register hundreds of restaurants to serve plastics-free meals. Our grassroots network will also remove 200,000 pounds of plastic and other trash from beaches and parks by engaging over 30,000 volunteers in the Better Beach Alliance.

3) Stop Offshore Drilling and Protect Ocean Habitat 

Our ocean is facing growing threats from pollution, habitat loss, energy development, fishing pressure and climate change. This year, Surfrider pledges to Stop New Offshore Drilling by opposing the Trump administration’s plans to expand oil and gas development in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Arctic Ocean. We will also support and defend over 50 marine protected areas (MPAs) through strong community and stakeholder support. In addition, Surfrider will protect critical ocean and coastal management programs by defending NOAA’s budget for the coming year. 

4) Protect our Coasts from Development and Climate Change 

Scientists estimate that over 50% of surveyed coastlines on the East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf of Mexico are at high risk for beach loss from sea level rise and coastal erosion. Meanwhile, new development including seawalls threatens coastal resources and our ability to enjoy them. In 2019, Surfrider will wage over 30 campaigns to protect our coasts from harmful shoreline development and armoring projects. We will work with 25 communities to plan for coastal erosion and sea level rise. Finally, we will support and defend climate change policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote coastal resilience.

5) Defend and Enhance Beach Access for All People

The Surfrider Foundation views beach access as a universal right of all people. That's why we will work to secure beach access on every coast so that people of all communities can enjoy valuable coastal resources. Unfortunately, beach access is constantly being threatened. Surfrider’s network is committed to meeting these challenges through community outreach, partnership building, grassroots advocacy and legal strategies. In 2019, Surfrider will open new access, or protect threatened access, in 5 to 10 states in the U.S. We will also support inclusive beach access by bringing 5,000 inland or underserved community members to visit the beach every year.

To get involved, find a nearby Surfrider chapter, join or renew your membership, or support Surfrider's volunteer coastal defenders!