Stab Magazine | Stab’s Guide To Protecting Your Coastline

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Stab’s Guide To Protecting Your Coastline

A DIY guide to getting active with Save The Waves director, Nik Strong-Cvetich.

news // Jan 15, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The tireless demand for jobs and growth placed on humankind is increasingly putting our coastlines at risk. From Harry’s in Baja, to Bells Beach in Victoria, the Great Australian Bight in South Australia, and Bali, development is threatening many of our favourite waves and the coastal environment itself. Nik Strong-Cevitch from Save The Waves explains how best to protect your coastline and gives us a status update on the worldwide fight against ill-planned developments.

Stab: What sort of a threat does tourism development and other kinds of development pose to our coastlines and the sport of surfing worldwide?
Nik: In a lot of ways tourism development is a double-edged sword, and I’d say surfing has been complicit in a lot of coastal tourism development. Generally poorly planned, and over-development of coastlines tends to disrupt natural coastal systems. It changes the flow of sediment; it can have water quality and run-off implications, damage reefs, accelerate erosion, and also flat out destroy breaking waves. All of these are bad for surfers/surfing, as well as the environment. However, the other edge of the sword is that when tourism is properly managed it can offer alternative economic benefits to locals that don’t damage ecosystems. I.e managing a surf lodge in Indo is better than dynamite fishing the reefs. An extreme example but you get the point.

What are the most efficient ways to fight back?
Being educated on the issues, and paying attention to your backyard. Many times people get fired up about an issue when they see bulldozers burying their favourite break. The best way to fight back is to be prepared. If the EIS (environmental impact statement) is released, then look at it and take the time to comment publicly. If this stuff is not your bag, then check in with a local group to get the scoop; Save The Waves ( on an international scale, Surfrider ( in US and the EU, Surfers Against Sewage in the UK. These are all good groups to be linked in with and can help you strategize the correct actions to take.

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How is the fight going?
Depends on where and what fight. We just had some luck in Ireland with our local partners stopping Donald Trump’s seawall that would have destroyed the wave and the beach at Doughmore. Again, it’s a good example of locals being motivated and seeking the right help. There are other places (LINK) where some pretty heinous stuff is going on. 

What are the competing interests at play in the development of our coastlines and who owns the moral high ground?
In many coastal communities, the demands for economic development on the coasts are real. Lots of people are barely scraping by, and anything that provides jobs is hailed as a good thing. On the other side, some wealthy developers don’t have these concerns, and just want to make a buck or two million and will exploit this demand. Many times what is truly valuable in the long run is a coastline that is open, healthy and accessible, and that the short-term boom or promised boom, actually hurts the long run. Think of all the cool places in northern Baja marred by unfinished developments that now are worthless, ugly, and have degraded ecosystems and lost access. Was the short term worth it?    

Five Steps To Help You Protect Your Coastline:
1. Spend time enjoying and understanding your local break. If you understand what ecological functions make it work, then you understand what can disrupt it. Coral, dunes, river mouths, sandbars, and reefs are all ecosystems that depend on a delicate balance. This also makes you a better surfer.

2. Pick up three pieces of trash each time you surf. There is trash everywhere – make it better than you left it.

3. Stay informed on your local issues. Whether development, water quality or trash, all conservation starts locally. Attend a council meeting or publicly comment on plans if an issue arises. Also, take care of the stuff that happens at your house, and ensure that you’re not part of the problem with shit running off your property into your local break.

4. Become a member of Save The Waves, Surfrider, Surfer’s Against Sewage or another informed local conservation or surf group. Tell your friends too and be rad.

5. Look out for the coming Save The Waves Mobile App to help crowdsource threats to our coastlines around the world. Stay tuned at


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