"Dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network"
The October Surfrider Cascadia Conference at Camp David Jr. on the Olympic Peninsula was the Surfrider mission statement personified: Seventy enthusiastic, smart, capable people from Newport, OR to Vancouver, Canada, attended the conference. Among them three members of your Newport, OR, Surfrider chapter executive committee and your Oregon policy manager and regional field manager. Each of us is now back home after a weekend of presentations and discussion about remarkable marine-debris cleanups, new scientific methods for monitoring the health of our ocean, strategies to protect our special places, and efforts to reduce beach and ocean pollution.
To summarize an entire weekend into a single article is impossible, so your new vice chair, Katharine Valentino, who is writing this article, will try to hit on a few of what for her were high points:
- I said the discussion about marine-debris cleanup was remarkable. It was. Think about how cold and uncomfortable you sometimes get slogging through and maybe cleaning up all that marine debris on our Oregon Central Coast. Then think if you were participating in a coastal cleanup effort on a wind-swept, rocky coast in Alaska. Well, maybe you don't get so cold and uncomfortable. Maybe this would be fun. If so, Ken Campbell from The Ikkatsu Project in Tacoma, WA, would like you to contact him about his next trip to Cape Decision on Kuiu Island to conduct debris surveys and collect water samples for microplastics screening. Data from this project will contribute to better understanding of how debris travels around the world and how fast it builds up on shorelines. A number of Surfrider members at the conference were raising their hands to volunteer for the next trip.
- If you have friends who show up in their shorts and t-shirts ready to play at the beach, and then find out it's 40 degrees with a 20-mph wind, tell them about NANOOS beach and surf apps. A representative from the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS) talked to us about two new apps of interest to Surfrider members. "Beach View" gives you water-quality data from Surfrider Blue Water Task Force monitoring, tide tables, and wave and wind information at Northwest beaches. In addition, "Surfers App" gives you current observations from buoys and coastal weather stations; forecasts for wave conditions including height, period, tide, currents and winds; and Surfrider's water-quality data.
- A victory for all of us who surf or swim in or play at the beach was achieved by the Surfrider Foundation at Martins Beach in San Mateo County, CA. A member of the 1 percent who own 99 percent of the wealth in this country bought the beach property, put up gates and hired security guards to keep the 99 percent out of "his" property. Thanks to attorneys working with Surfrider, free beach access is restored. And while this occurred in California, it does help to set precedent for free beach access for all.
- That travelling surfboard you may have heard about that has been signed by business people to oppose offshore drilling was on display. It was signed by several conference attendees. Any more signatures will have to be in very fine print since there's hardly any room left on the board. This spring, the board will be presented to the Department of the Interior to protest the Trump administration's plan to issue seven lease sales on the Pacific Coast, one in Oregon or Washington and six in California.
- Of particular interest to your Newport execs was a roundtable discussion on plastic pollution. It's worldwide. It's replacing plankton. It's in everything and everybody. In short, it's bad. We need to ban the bag, ditch the straw, convert to ocean-friendly restaurants and come up with some brand new solutions as well to take a proactive approach toward the problem. Basically, we need to stop killing the world we live in.
- Finally, there was this picture of Florida in the future that sticks with me. Think of the size of the Hawaiian Islands now. Something similar to this size will be all that is left of the entire state of Florida eventually, thanks to rising sea levels, thanks to climate change. I don't know what I could possibly do about this, but I promise I will do what I can.
That's why I joined Surfider, and must be why you joined as well. To do something. To be "dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network."