Malibu designated as World Surfing Reserve

Environmental coalition embraces action for coastline preservation.

By Alexandra Markus

Special to The Malibu Times

In an effort to preserve Malibu’s oceans, beaches and iconic surf spot culture, a group of environmental organizations will dedicate Malibu Surfrider Beach and its surrounding area as a World Surfing Reserve. The dedication will begin with an enshrinement ceremony on Saturday.

The designation, the first of its kind in the United States, is made by a coalition of environmental organizations that work to protect the world’s oceans and coastlines, including World Surfing Reserves, Save the Waves Coalition and the West Los Angeles/Malibu Surfrider Chapter. The California Coastal Commission and the City of Malibu formally adopted the designation, adding another layer of protection against development or any other activity that would negatively affect the reserve.

Mayor Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner had drafted the original letter requesting the city to adopt the designation of reserve, which covers the area from the pier to Third Point, and inland to the Adamson wall.

“It’s a good hearted, well meant program,” Wagner said. “It’s surfers trying to take care of surfers’ area.”

The designation of Malibu is one in a series of World Surfing Reserves and is set to include the coastlines of Australia, Hawaii and multiple other surf spots throughout the world.

“Publicly, Malibu is an iconic surf spot, which is really important because it is facing some major water issues,” Josh Berry, environmental director of Save the Waves, said.

Save the Waves partnered with the National Surfing Reserves Australia and the International Surfing Association to form World Surfing Reserves in 2009 and is commencing the enshrinements and initiatives to educate the public on the value of oceans and beaches, and providing tools for coastal communities to protect local beaches.

“The vision is to dedicate and respect these spots for future generations,” said nine-time ASP world champion surfer Kelly Slater. “I’m honored to work with World Surfing Reserves to hopefully be a small part of that difference in protecting the tradition and history around the surfing world’s most symbolic and important beaches.”

Saturday’s event in Malibu will begin with a sunrise ceremony and paddle out at First Point kicking off at 7 a.m., followed by a water dedication ceremony and a formal dedication on the beach at 11 a.m. attended by local, county and state officials, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and Coastal Commissioners Sara Wan and Ross Mirkarimi. An evening fundraiser will take place at Duke’s Malibu restaurant with a live performance by Jon Swift.

Save the Waves Coalition or “the UNESCO of surfing,” Berry said, works in four principle phases in order to designate a World Surfing Reserve-the nomination process, the selection process, enshrinements such as the Malibu event and continual management plans.

Saturday will also mark the inception of a stewardship and preservation plan designed to encourage awareness centered on preserving the Malibu coastline, the epicenter of California surf spots. A local stewardship council will be responsible for implementing the stewardship’s economic, political social and environmental benefits. Community leaders and surf icons such as Bill Parr, Andy Lyon, Dillon Perillo, Josh Farberow, Michael Blum, Allen Sarlo, Steven Lippman and Julie Cox comprise the local stewardship. Malibu Mayor Jefferson Wagner is also part of the stewardship council.

Malibu has been the portrait of Southern California style, Berry said, a decades-long hot spot for celebrities and filmmaking, making it an ideal place to bring attention to pressing environmental issues.

“The Malibu coastline is threatened,” Berry said. “The urban run off, sewage pollution … which directly affect ocean habitats and human health are all happening in Malibu.

“Malibu is a relevant contemporary place, huge for surfers and it is pretty amazing that we can draw attention for these environmental issues from this location.”

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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