As surfers we depend on the natural environment to participate in our sport, the protection and sustainability of our surfing environment and access to that environment should be a priority for every surfer.
Irish surfers are faced with an ever-increasing number of environmental issues including water quality, access problems, erosion, proposed developments, illegal dumping/litter and overcrowding.
Although the ISA does not have the funds or personnel to fight every environment issue that may arise we can support local surfers and clubs on the ground to take action. As the National Governing Body for the sport of surfing the Irish Surfing Association represents a strong lobby group when it comes to fighting such issues.
What can you do when you encounter such problems?
The water quality at many breaks in Ireland is unacceptable posing a hazard to surfers and other water users. Raw or partially treated sewage is being discharged into the sea all around our coastline. Surfers encountering water quality problems should inform the ISA and complain to the local authority and the Department of Environment. If you come across problems on a blue flag beach immediately contact An Taisce.
Proposed developments such as harbour extensions, marinas, erosion defences etc. and erosion can seriously impact on waves and access to waves. It is essential that surfers inform the ISA at an early stage of such threats. Surfers will have an opportunity to object to proposed development and it is vital that you take this opportunity- don’t leave it up to somebody else. In cases of erosion you should inform the local authority.
In Ireland we depend on the good will of landowners and local residents to access many of the spots we surf on a regular basis. Please respect our access and show respect to landowners and local residents. Do not park where you are blocking gates, roadways, residences etc. Do not damage fences or leave gates open. If you are unfamiliar with a break check with local surfers regarding access. If you see other surfers jeopardizing access bring the matter to their attention. If you encounter a threat to an access/ right of way bring the issue to the attention of the ISA and contact the local authority.
Littering and illegal dumping is a familiar sight around our coast. If you witness illegal dumping inform the local authority. Surfers can be proactive by organising “clean-ups” of the coastline. Local Authorities are usually willing to provide bag, gloves etc. for such “clean-ups” and will collect and dispose of rubbish gathered. If you are planning a beach clean-up you can contribute to the Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup survey by completing and returning the two forms below. Unfortunately surfers themselves are not without blame when it comes to littering our coastline. How often do we see the remains of fires, bottles, cans, old tents and van and other rubbish abandoned by surfers! Please take your litter home.
Surfing is continuously growing in Ireland with more surfers in the water than ever before. Such growth does have the negative consequence of overcrowding of “line-up”. Overcrowding can destroys the spirit and fun of surfing. It only takes one or two greedy or uneducated surfers to bring chaos to the “line-up” resulting in flared tempers, arguments, fights and accidents. Conflict can be reduced if surfers familiarise themselves with the safety and etiquette rules. Always be aware and show respect to other water users, apologies if you make a mistake and above all, keep a good friendly attitude.
Every surfer has an obligation to protect our surfing environment. If you don’t do something who will? Become proactive on environmental issues. Join your local surf club and support the club’s work on local environment issues. Around the world too many surf sports have been degraded and destroyed. Let not wait for this to happen in Ireland.