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Our History

Constant Pressure, Endlessly Applied

40 years ago a group of surfers from Malibu, California, were concerned about the health risks associated with environmental threats posed by escalating coastal development at their favorite surf spot. They took action. Not even they could have envisioned the history they were making when they succeeded in protecting their beloved surf spot.

Since its inception in 1984, the Surfrider Foundation has evolved into one of the largest non-profit grassroots organizations with a volunteer-activist network dedicated to its mission to protect and enjoy the world's oceans, waves and beaches.

Today, the Surfrider Foundation is measurably stronger, with more force and movement than ever before. It has over 200 chapters and student clubs and countless supporters, volunteers and activists fighting over 100 active campaigns around the country. Armed with a model to defend the coast, the organization has a record of over 800 victories since 2006. 

Filled with times of uncertainty, it hasn’t been easy. The Surfrider Foundation’s long-term success and growth is a tribute to its founders vision, that taking on an environmental battle may not be easy, but with constant pressure, endlessly applied, it can be won. 

Part one

The Surfrider Foundation is Born


Tom Pratte
Glenn Hening 1978
Lance Carson

The Surfrider Foundation was Founded by Glenn Hening, Lance Carson, Tom Pratte, and Chris Blakely in Malibu, CA.

The Surfrider Foundation was founded by Glenn Hening, Lance Carson, Tom Pratte, Chris Blakely and a group of surfers who were concerned about the environmental threats posed by escalating coastal development at their favorite surf break, Surfrider Beach in Malibu, California.

Relentless, the group addressed the issues and presented solutions to California State Park officials at a public hearing in 1984. They won. And, little by little, they started chalking up successes and fighting battles that continue today.

On August 22, 1984 the Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of California, signed by Glenn Hening as President.

Why the name Surfrider? Although it seems its obvious, Glenn Hening actually coined it “Surfrider” after the Surfrider Inn in Santa Monica, California. It was the hotel Hening stayed at when he was eight-years-old and first visited the west coast with his family. 

Part two

Evolution of the Chapter Network



No-Surfing Ordinance Lifted in Santa Barbara, CA

The Surfrider Foundation convinced the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to lift a no-surfing ordinance at the Santa Maria Rivermouth in Santa Barbara County, California.


Imperial Beach Protected 

A federal court ruled in favor of the Surfrider Foundation when the U.S. Army Corps lost its battle over a proposed breakwater at Imperial Beach, San Diego, California.  


Making Waves Newsletter was Developed  

The Surfrider Foundation's print newsletter, was created to provide members with organizational news, events, current coastal issues and scientific reports through contributions from staff, activists and volunteers.  It was first published in the spring of 1985.



Beach Access Victory in San Diego

The organization gained public beach access to South Cardiff State Beach (aka Seaside Reef) in San Diego, California, when the California State Parks Department installed the first ever electronic gate that automatically opened at dawn. 



Victory in Bolsa Chica

The Surfrider Foundation, in a landmark decision, stopped the development of a marina (an ocean entrance and a mile-long breakwater) at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach, California.



Blue Water Task Force is Established

The Blue Water Task Force (BWTF), a volunteer-run, water testing, educational and advocacy program, was launched. Surfrider Chapters use the BWTF to provide valuable public health information to beach goers, creating public awareness and the political will to find and fix sources of beach pollution along the nation's coasts. It's the organization's most successful program to date.


Blue Water Task Force is Established

The Blue Water Task Force (BWTF), a volunteer-run, water testing, educational and advocacy program, was launched. Surfrider Chapters use the BWTF to provide valuable public health information to beach goers, creating public awareness and the political will to find and fix sources of beach pollution along the nation's coasts. It's the organization's most successful program to date.



Surfrider Supports Environmental Laws

In the early 90's the Surfrider Foundation worked hard to support the implementation of new environmental laws, including the reauthorization of the Clean Water Act (which was enacted in 1972), to help prevent or curb the growing devastation of the nation's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.


The Surfrider Foundation Wins Second Largest Clean Water Act Lawsuit in United States History

The Surfrider Foundation won a Clean Water Act lawsuit against two pulp mills in Humboldt County, California. As a result of this suit, one of these mills, the Louisiana Pacific mill, became the only pulp mill in North America to begin producing totally chlorine-free paper. 



Chapter Network Established

As the U.S. coasts continued to be threatened by dirty water, irresponsible coastal development, the loss of beach access and destruction of its ecosystems, the need for coastal preservation grew. The Surfrider Foundation's global headquarters staff in San Clemente, California, received more requests for help than they were able to process. Thus the Surfrider chapter network was established, with the first chapters chartered in Orange County and San Diego County, California.


Surfrider Expands Internationally

The Surfrider Foundation started to expand worldwide with affiliates in Europe (1990), Australia (1990), Japan (1993) and Brazil (1993).  



Clean Water Victory in San Diego 

The San Diego Surfrider Chapter in San Diego, California, succeeded in getting a fine of $830,000 levied against the City of San Diego for violations in sewage outflows at Penasquitos Lagoon.


Surf Spots Protected

The California Coastal Commission made a landmark decision in Surfrider Foundation's and surfing's favor regarding the restoration of surfing spots lost due to the building of a coastal structure by Chevron Oil Company in El Segundo, California. 



Beach Access Victory in New Jersey

The New Jersey Surfrider Chapter fought and won beach access for surfers at the Jersey Shore along the borough of Deal, just north of Asbury Park. This lawsuit sent a signal to other New Jersey towns not to be restrictive of surfer's rights to access.



Surfrider Goes Digital

The Surfrider Foundation's website launched, and several Surfrider Chapters started websites.


Bolsa Chica Wetlands Saved

The Surfrider Foundation and the Long Beach/North Orange County Surfrider Chapter saved 930 acres of coastal wetlands at Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach, California.


Clean Water Protected in Hawai‘i

The Surfrider Foundation settled a lawsuit with the City of Honolulu, Hawai‘i. The city was penalized for over 13,000 Clean Water Act violations at Kailua Bay, Hawaii. 


Surfrider Remains Open Thanks to Generous Donation from Pearl Jam

Despite some significant campaign wins, the Surfrider Foundation was struggling to make ends meet. Pearl Jam, an American rock band, donated $50,000 to the Foundation from two of their San Diego shows. The donation not only allowed Surfrider to remain open, it enabled the Foundation to expand its chapter network, catapulting it even further into an activist-driven grassroots organization.

By 1995 Surfrider has 28 total chapters.

Part three

Impact and Awareness



MOM: Music for Our Mother Ocean Series. 

The Surfrider Foundation partnered with Surfdog Records to create a benefit album Music for our Mother Ocean (MOM); for which Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys, Jewel, No Doubt, Sublime and the Ramones, among many others, contributed original songs. Its follow-up, MOM 2 (1997), included songs from The Offspring, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Jewel, 311, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Porno For Pyros. In 1999 MOM 3 debuted with songs by Snoop Dogg, Beck, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chris Issak and Jane's Addiction. Pearl Jam graciously supported the launch of the (MOM) series recording the song “Gremmie Out of Control” for the compilation, and contributed “Whale Song” for the 1999 MOM 3 CD.  In the end all three CDs raised more than $100,000 for the Foundation.


Numerous Chapter Victories! 

The Laguna Beach Surfrider Chapter (now the South Orange County Surfrider Chapter) convinced the city to implement a 10-point pollution plan. The Santa Cruz Surfrider Chapter succeeded in working with the City to address pollution runoff problems and also helped get education programs into schools. The San Francisco Surfrider Chapter received the Rossi Award for their beach clean up program.



Washington Coast Protected from Petroleum Burn

The Washington State Surfrider Chapter stopped a petroleum test burn along 10 miles of Washington coastline involving 2,500 gallons of crude oil.


Nature-Based Solutions in Florida

The Palm Beach County Surfrider Chapter planted over 60,000 mangrove trees in two county wetland restoration areas.



Clean Water Protected at the U.S./Mexico Border

The Surfrider Foundation settled a lawsuit against the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) for cleaner waters at the U.S./Mexico boarder area. The settlement required IBWC to research the feasibility of using environmentally sensitive ponding systems rather than chemical wastewater treatment for the border area.



President Bill Clinton signed into law the Beaches Environmental Assessment, Cleanup and Health Act (B.E.A.C.H. Bill).

The B.E.A.C.H. Bill establishes consistent nationwide standards for beach water quality monitoring, testing and notification. For several years, the Surfrider Foundation worked with a coalition of groups, including Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Marine Conservation, and American Oceans Campaign on making the B.E.A.C.H. Bill a reality. 


The State of the Beach Report Launched

Surfrider launches their first State of the Beach Report, a comprehensive state by state review of America's shoreline measuring five critical beach health indicators, is published. The printed report ran from 2000-2008 and currently lives on the Surfrider Foundation's Beachapedia website.



Clean Water Victory in Huntington, CA

After 10 years of pressure from the Surfrider Foundation and the Huntington/Seal Beach Surfrider Chapter in Orange County, California, a huge battle was won when the Orange County Sanitation District Board discontinued operating under a sewage waiver that allowed them to discharge 240 million gallons of partially treated sewage, per day, off Huntington Beach for nearly 20 years. 


Rincon Protected

The Surfrider Foundation helped stop a major hotel development project in Rincon, Puerto Rico. This would be one of many wins by the Foundation to protect this special coastal place.



Surfing Saved in New Jersey

Thanks to pressure from the Surfrider Foundation and the public, the ban on surfing at New Jersey's legendary Asbury Park Beach was repealed. 



Reserva Marina Tres Palmas Established

To protect Puerto Rico's rich marine biodiversity, some of the healthiest elkhorn corals in the world and the the surf that breaks over them, the Reserva Marina Tres Palmas (RMTP) was established in Rincon, Puerto Rico. It was a huge community effort, lead by The Surfrider Foundation. Reserva Marina Tres Palmas became one of the world’s first marine protected areas that included surfing as a key component. 



International Surfing Day Established

The Surfrider Foundation and Surfing Magazine teamed up and declared June 20 International Surfing Day. Starting with nearly 16 domestic and one international event, International Surfing Day has grown exponentially to 200-plus events in more than 30 countries. Since its inception, approximately 80,000 tons of trash has been removed from our coastal environments.


Surfrider Adds Regional Staff

The Surfrider Foundation created and implemented a regional support staff model leading to the strategic placement of staff in Florida, Northeast, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Mid-Atlantic regions. The organization increased staff support from 20 in 2005 to more than 80 people today.  


Surfrider Wins National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Excellence Award

The Surfrider Foundation was awarded with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Excellence Award for Coastal and Ocean Resource Management, in the category of Non-Governmental Organization of the Year.


Surfing Ban Lifted at Rockaway Beach

A long standing surfing ban at New York's famed Rockaway Beach was overturned thanks to pressure from the Surfrider Foundation's New York City Chapter.


Art for the Ocean Auction

Art for the Oceans art auction in New York raised $320,000 in unrestricted funds for the Surfrider Foundation. Nearly 700 people, including celebrities, New York socialites and a host of East Coast surfers attended the event.


Ocean Protected in Virginia

The Surfrider Foundation's Virginia Beach Chapter helped ensure state legislators voted down a bill that would have opened their coastline to gas and oil exploration.

By 2005 Surfrider has 62 total chapters.


Living and Growing in a Digital Age


2006-Present: Living and Growing in a Digital Age


Surfrider Sets Long-term Victory Goal

For the first time, the Surfrider Foundation defined coastal victory and set a goal for the organization to achieve 150 victories in the next five years.


Beach Access Protected in Florida

The Surfrider Foundation won a lawsuit regarding several blocked public beach access points in Ponte Vedra, Florida.  


Ship Salvage Facility Establishment Halted

The establishment of a ship salvage facility in Yaquina Bay, Oregon, is halted by the Surfrider Foundation Newport Oregon Chapter.



Wavemaker Awards

The Surfrider Foundation's Wavemaker Awards were created to recognize volunteers, supporters and partners who contribute in extraordinary ways toward Surfrider's mission. Approximately 75 awards have been given to date. Award categories include Environmental Activism, Distinguished Service, Chapter Leadership, Corporate Partnership and Coastal Impact.



Trestles SAVED!

The Surfrider Foundation won a huge victory when the California Coastal Commission ruled against a proposed SR-241 Toll Road extension that would have threatened San Onofre State Park and Trestles surf beaches in Southern California.


Surfrider moves headquarters to San Clemente, CA.

The Surfrider Foundation global headquarters staff moved into a newly constructed building in San Clemente, California. It was awarded a LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).


Surfrider Foundation launched several new programs:

  • Not the Answer: A program focusing on protecting the nation's coasts from the risky practice of offshore drilling through grassroots advocacy at the federal and state levels. Surfrider chapter efforts include 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.
  • Ocean Friendly Gardens: An outreach program designed to reduce urban runoff and residential water consumption in communities.
  • Rise Above Plastics: An educational and outreach program designed to raise awareness of and reduce the amount of plastic pollution in coastal and marine environments.
  • Know Your H2O: A program designed to educate people on the link between freshwater management issues and its impact on the nations oceans, waves, and beaches.
  • Quad: A youth service program providing young people with an opportunity to start school clubs throughout the United States.
  • BeachapediaA wiki-based coastal information resource drawing on expertise of Surfrider Foundation experts and activists.



The organization unveiled a new logo. 


MorganMaassen_Surfrider_2022 - 352

150 Victories!

The Surfrider Foundation achieved more than 150 victories between 2006 and 2010.



Beach Access Victory in Maine

The Surfrider Foundation won a public beach access case in Maine when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled in McGarvey v. Whittredge that private ownership rights in the intertidal lands do not allow oceanfront property owners to exclude the public from crossing the wet sand to reach the ocean for SCUBA diving access.


Making Waves Goes Digital



The Marine Debris Act Amendments (H.R. 1171) reauthorized and amended the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act.

This victory addresses plastic ocean pollution on a national level and adds to our 20 local victories for the Rise Above Plastics program in 2012.



Honolua Bay is saved

The Maui Surfrider Chapter joined other marine conservation and Native Hawaiian groups in successfully mobilizing state lawmakers to oppose a golf course and 40 luxury homes overlooking Honolua Bay, Hawaii


The Rhode Island Surfrider Chapter helped save the popular surf break, Ruggles.

Ravaged by Sandy, the popular Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, is on deck for some hefty repairs, which called for placement of huge jetties…smack dab in the middle of one of New England's most popular surf breaks, off Ruggles Ave.

Surfrider Foundation's Rhode Island Chapter kept close tabs on the situation throughout the process, wagering a statement of concern regarding the jetties, attending meetings to review plans, and reporting out to the community. Rhode Island's Coastal Resource Management Council held a public meeting July 17, where lower impact, surfer-friendly plans for the Cliff Walk repair were discussed & approved! 



Victory in San Mateo, California

Surfrider Foundation won a protracted legal battle against billionaire and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla to restore public access to Martin’s Beach in San Mateo, California. Represented by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy legal firm and attorney Mark Massara. Worked closely with San Mateo Surfrider Chapter and California Coastal Commission. 


California State Legislature passed the first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.

Surfrider activists worked toward a statewide ban for six years and this made California the first state to outlaw single-use plastic bags.



Surfrider’s O‘ahu chapter celebrated a victory at the Hawai‘i Supreme Court.

This victory set precedent to protect the sanctity of coastal setback ordinances and prevent abuse of zoning variances. Specifically, the Kyo Ya Hotel and Resort was not allowed to infringe on the coastal setback ordinance established to protect the public beach at Waikiki



Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument 

Along with many scientists, Native Hawaiians and environmental groups, Surfrider urged Pres. Obama to expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Pres. Obama announced the expansion at the beginning of the IUCN World Conservation Congress, which was held in Honolulu in early Sept. The expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Monument would increase the area of the sanctuary from approximately 139,800 square miles to possibly 639,300 square miles. Hawaii is now home to the largest marine protected area in the world!

Surfrider launches Ocean Friendly Restaurants Program 

Plastic pollution is suffocating our ocean and the many animals that call it home. Researchers estimate there are now over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean with the number continuing to grow every day. This pollution is impacting our marine ecosystems, wildlife such as seabirds, dolphins, fish, and turtles, and plastic fragments are even displacing plankton at the base of the food chain. So what’s the best way to combat this global epidemic facing our ocean? It’s simple: we need to stop the problem at its source! The Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants program does just that. One restaurant, one customer at a time, increases awareness, drives change in behavior and ultimately creates scalable impact to reduce our plastic (and water!) footprint. Learn more about the program here


The Atlantic is protected from offshore oil drilling. 

On December 20, 2016, President Obama announced permanent 'withdrawl' of parts of the Atlantic and Arctic Ocean from future oil and gas drilling. The move protects critical ecological areas off the Atlantic coast along with most of the Chukchie and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic.  



Atlantic is protected from seismic blasting.

On January 6th, 2017, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced denial of all pending permit applications for seismic airgun blasting off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast. The decision is a huge victory for Surfrider Foundation's ongoing campaign to Protect the Atlantic coast from oil and gas development. While the Trump Administration is pushing for both seismic exploration and new offshore drilling again, BOEM's decison is great news for our marine ecosystem and Atlantic coastal communities.


Sand Mining is Shut down in monterey!

Years of efforts by Surfrider Foundation's Monterey chapter and partners to shut down the last coastal sand mine in the United States paid off on July 13th, 2017. The California Coastal Commission unanimously approved an agreement with multinational building-supply company CEMEX to shut down its 8-acre sand mine located in the small Monterey County town of Marina.

Surfrider helps the community in Rincón Puerto Rico find clean water after Hurricane Maria. 

In the days and weeks following Hurricane Maria, the Rincón Chapter’s Blue Water Task Force rallied to restart their water testing program in post-storm conditions to provide critical public health and water safety information for local communities.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last fall, it knocked out the entire electrical grid and much of the island’s infrastructure, including roads, hospitals, water supply and telecommunications networks. Amazingly enough, over eight months later, there are still nearly 12,000 homes and businesses without power!

Although chapter volunteers were experiencing the same difficult post-storm conditions as the rest of the island, they were able to restart their water quality monitoring program by teaming up with other relief and health organizations. Watch this video to hear from our Surfrider volunteers themselves how they were able restart their program and empower communities to generate their own water quality information and protect their health.



Surfrider helps pass legislation that bans toxic chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate in sunscreens to protect coral reefs and human health. 

In June, the state legislature passed the nation’s first ever statewide ban on sunscreens that contain chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are known to harm coral reefs and local fish. On July 3, the governor of Hawai'i signed this bill into law, which will require that every Hawaiian island stops selling sunscreen that contains these two chemicals by January 1, 2021.

The Surfrider Hawai'i chapters have been advocating for this type of coral reef protection for years. In 2016, Surfrider's Hawaii Chapters launched a statewide campaign to ban the toxic chemical oxybenzone. The Surfrider Foundation’s five chapters in Hawaii and our extensive network of supporters are concerned about the damage chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate are doing to our reef system, which annually generates about $800 million in gross revenues to the state of Hawaii.  We are part of the Hawaii Reef and Ocean Coalition, which was formed last year by concerned coral reef scientists, educators, government officials and environmental groups, and one of our top priorities is banning sunscreens with oxybenzone. 


Surfrider launches a new logo on our 34th birthday! 

When it came time to redesign the Surfrider logo, we were presented with an opportunity to pay homage to the original logo from 1984. Our new design is a modernized interpretation of our initial logo that brings a progressive and visionary attitude to the familiar and beloved original.


San francisco passes more than just a straw ban.

San Francisco passed the Plastic, Toxics and Litter Reduction Ordinance in August 2018 in response to the outcry against marine plastic pollution. After three years of groundwork by the Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter and allies to raise awareness and build a movement to reduce the use of single-use plastic straws, San Francisco has adopted an ordinance that will ban the sale and distribution of single-use plastic and bio-plastic straws, utensils, stirrers and similar items, in addition to foodware containers that contain fluorinated chemicals.

The ordinance further requires that all single-use foodware and accessories must be compostable (accepted by the city’s composting program) or recyclable.

Surfrider’s “The United States and Oceans of America” campaign launches.

We urged the American people to join us to start a new fight. The fight to free our ocean and coasts. Our nation is made up of more water than land. America’s oceans cover nearly 4.5 million square miles, which is 23% greater than U.S. landmass. The coast is a top tourist destination with more than 100 million people visiting our nation’s beaches annually. In fact, coastal recreation and tourism constitute 2.2 million jobs and contribute $115 billion to the nation’s economy every year. But clean water and healthy beaches are increasingly threatened by plastic and ocean pollution, offshore oil drilling, rollbacks to federal protections, development and rising tides. We each have a stake in taking action to ensure the places where we surf, swim, play and live are protected for this and future generations. Together, we are the United States and Oceans of America



 For those of us who love the coast, the negative impacts of offshore oil drilling are obvious. Offshore drilling has a proven track record of polluting the ocean, damaging coastal economies and threatening a way of life enjoyed by millions of people. To help set the record straight, Surfrider released a new short film with surf legend Rob Machado and surfer/ comedian, Tyler Allen, on the Trump administration’s plans for new offshore drilling and what this means for our ocean and coastal communities.Surfrider's network visits Washington D.C. to defend our nation's coasts! Over one hundred Surfrider Foundation members and recreation industry partners traveled to Washington D.C. on February 28 – March 1st to meet with federal leaders about ways to protect our ocean, waves, and beaches. Learn more here.


Surfrider's network visits Washington D.C. to defend our nation's coasts!

Over one hundred Surfrider Foundation members and recreation industry partners traveled to Washington D.C. on February 28 – March 1st to meet with federal leaders about ways to protect our ocean, waves, and beaches. 

A Real Border Emergency

The health and well-being of coastal communities on both sides of the U. S. - Mexico border and the millions of people who enjoy this stretch of coastline have long been under threat from the flow of untreated sewage, industrial pollution and trash into the Tijuana River Watershed and the Pacific Ocean.

Learn more about this problem and how Surfrider San Diego is empowering local communities to protect their health and advocate for solutions here.

Florida’s Toxic Algae Crisis

In 2019, Florida experienced some of the most severe harmful algal blooms on record, with toxic red tides and blue-green algae suffocating the coastlines.Florida is well-known for its year-round warm climate and beautiful, sandy beaches. While beach tourism drives the state’s economy, people who visit and live in the Sunshine State are losing the long-standing recreational opportunities that they cherish. Ongoing water pollution and harmful algal blooms, including red tides and toxic blue-green algae, are putting public health at risk and causing massive die-offs of fish, marine life and sea turtles. 


Hawai‘i Passes First Ever Ban on Reef Harming Sunscreens

In 2019 the state legislature passed the nation’s first ever statewide ban on sunscreens that contain chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are known to harm coral reefs and local fish. Today, the governor of Hawai'i signed this bill into law, which will require that every Hawaiian island stops selling sunscreen that contains these two chemicals by January 1, 2021. Learn more here


A Quantum Leap Forward



The seas are rising and so are we!

Over 150 Surfrider members, industry leaders and surf ambassadors traveled to Washington D.C. on February 26-28 to meet with federal leaders about ways to protect our ocean, waves, and beaches. Participants visited 145 Senate and House offices to urge immediate action on climate change, plastic pollution, water quality and other key issues affecting our coasts and ocean.

Surfrider foundation believes that everybody deserves access to clean water to surf, swim, and play in.

The Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) is Surfrider’s citizen science water testing program that provides critical water quality information to protect public health at the beach.

Annually, the Blue Water Task Force:

  • Runs 55 Active Water Testing Labs
  • Tests 480+ Beaches
  • Collects 7500+ Samples

We are happy to present this freshly released film to share the stories of our BWTF volunteers nationwide.


Stay Home, Shred Later

In March of 2020, the world ground to a halt as COVID-19 took over our daily lives. Surfrider developed tools, worked with leading scientists and gave the public valuable information to help navigate these difficult times. Learn more here


U.S. Supreme Court Delivers Victory for the Clean Water Act!

Surfrider Foundation and our co-plaintiffs in the Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui case are celebrating an important victory today with the decision to protect water quality and the intent of the Clean Water Act by the United States Supreme Court.  In a 6-3 ruling, the majority of the court refused to allow a large loophole in the Act and found that liability for pollution exists “when there is direct discharge from a point source into navigable waters or when there is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge.” 

Congress passes historic legislation to protect public lands!

Surfrider and our conservation partners across America joyfully celebrated this victory because we have been working for years to fund the LWCF.  The Great American Outdoors Act finally ‘makes the LWCF whole’ by fully funding the program, as originally intended by President Kennedy in 1965. 

When President Kennedy signed the LWCF into law, his vision was based on a simple concept: take revenues from offshore oil and gas production to protect parks, open spaces, sensitive habitat and to improve recreational opportunities across the U.S. Surfrider is adamantly opposed to new offshore drilling, but we believe it makes sense to direct a percentage of royalties from leases issued in the past to help support conservation. Unfortunately, the program has never been fully funded over the past 55 years. 


15 years, thousands of activists, one goal — save Trestles forever.

After a marathon campaign of more than 15 years, the battle to Save Trestles came to fruition today when Governor Newsom signed AB 1426 into law.  This new legislation will protect San Onofre State Beach and Trestles from any type of road construction.  

The valiant effort to Save Trestles has been a long and winding road (no pun intended).  The first step in this battle was the formation of our mighty Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC), which represents millions of people from local and national organizations. In 2005, SSOC first came together when over 1,000 activists showed up at a Parks and Recreation Commission hearing to speak out against a six-lane toll road that would have cut through San Onofre State Beach — damaging the last remaining undeveloped watershed in southern California, the world-famous surf break at Trestles Beach, multiple endangered species, and sacred Indigenous sites. Learn more here.



Oregon LNG export terminal and gas pipeline project is officially stopped.

After a decade-long battle, Surfrider’s Coos Bay Chapter, along with Surfrider Oregon members and coalition partners celebrated a massive victory. Pembina, the Canadian company developing a fracked gas pipeline across Oregon and export terminal in Coos Bay, has filed a formal request asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision (FERC) to cancel its permit for the project.


California Passes Four Precedent-Setting Bills to Fight Plastic Pollution

The Surfrider Foundation worked closely with the bill co-sponsors, allies and coalitions to advocate for these momentous bills. All four were signed into law by Governor Newsom on October 5, 2021.

  •  #SB343 (Allen) is a historic bill as the nation's strongest law to prevent deceptive recyclable labeling.
  •  #AB881 (Gonzelez) closes the loophole in California law that enables exported mixed plastic waste to be deemed recycled even when it is landfilled, burned, dumped, or otherwise improperly managed.
  •  #AB1276 (Carrillo) expands the straw upon request law to include other single-use food accessories such as plates, cups, utensils, and condiments to be given to consumers only upon request.
  •  #AB962 (Kamlager) creates returnable bottle systems in California to preserve bottles so that they can be washed and refilled by beverage producers rather than being crushed for recycling.

Orange County Oil Spill

On Saturday, October 2nd, 2021 an estimated 126,000 gallons of oil spilled when a pipeline broke approximately 4 miles off the coast near an offshore drilling platform. The spill resulted in a 13-mile wide oil slick off the coast of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach and further illustrates why offshore drilling is not the answer.

Surfrider engaged the public through SMS messaging and our network to bring vital updates on the cleanup efforts and subsequent passing of a resolution in Huntington Beach to officially oppose the expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling.



Surfrider lawsuit improves ocean water quality and protects public health.

This settlement will address the severe pollution that threatens public health, the environment, local economies and our communities in the border region.


Seabed Mining Banned in CA

Victory as the California Seabed Mining Prevention Act was signed into law, protecting California’s interconnected coastal and ocean environment from harmful seabed mining. Surfrider joined Monterey Bay Aquarium  and Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis in co-sponsoring the legislation, and advocating for its passage.


U.S Steel Win 

In 2018, Surfrider sued U.S. Steel for discharging nearly 300 pounds of toxic hexavalent chromium into Lake Michigan, near a popular surf break. This prompted U.S. and state regulators to also file suit, and Surfrider intervened in that case, while our initial lawsuit was put on pause. That case ultimately settled last August, and after years of Surfrider’s participation (which involved filing briefs with hundreds of pages of exhibits, and expert statements, and support from @chicago_surfrider activists), in addition to roughly $600,000 in penalties, U.S. Steel agreed to implement a new water quality monitoring project and improved public notification requirements in order to better inform the public of health concerns in the event of water pollution.



New York City Fights Plastic Pollution

Surfrider celebrated the passage of the Skip The Stuff bill, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our New York City Chapter. The bill aims to change customer expectations for takeout and delivery food by no longer providing extra items such as napkins, utensils, and condiments unless they are specifically requested—significantly reducing single-use plastic pollution.


Laguna Beach Passes the First Balloon Ban in Orange County!

Surfrider and our South Orange County Chapter celebrated a significant victory in the fight against plastic pollution as the first balloon ban in Orange County, California, has passed. Since 2016, Surfrider has helped to pass 31 balloon laws nationwide.


Surfrider Launches the First Global Marketing Campaign Titled "The Ocean Needs More Friends"

The ocean makes up most of our planet, and plays a crucial role in our health and survival. Unfortunately this precious resource has been abused by humans for far too long. And now, more than ever, the ocean needs more friends.

The goal of The Ocean Needs More Friends campaign is to rally 1 million friends of the ocean to fight plastic pollution and climate change so our ocean, waves and beaches are protected for generations to come. 

Launched in May of 2023, this marketing campaign is a global effort with support from Surfrider global affiliates in Japan, Australia, Europe and Canada. 


Since Surfrider’s first iconic win in 1984 to defend Malibu’s famed surfing break, the organization has worked to preserve the ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful network of volunteers. 

Today Surfrider has over 200 chapters and student clubs and more than 1 million supporters, volunteers and activists fighting over 100 active campaigns around the country. Armed with a model to defend the coast, since the Surfrider Foundation started counting victories in 2006, it has won over 800 victories (and counting). 

Protect what you love today, tomorrow and for generations to come.