On Monday, a 10-mile stretch of beach on the Gold Coast of Australia was officially designated as the eighth World Surfing Reserve by the Save the Waves organization in an effort to preserve the pristine breaks for years to come.
In order to gain the designation, Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve chair, Andrew McKinnon told The New Daily that a committee had to endure a two year application process and secure commitments to preservation from local and state governments.
“In the end it was undeniable,” McKinnon said. “Why not have a Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve that protects beach, and amenity, from Burleigh Heads through to Snapper Rocks?”
The Gold Coast beat out competition from Noosa beach on Australia’s Sunshine Coast and Brazil's Guarda do Embao beach to gain the recognition. In doing so, it joined Malibu and Santa Cruz in California, Manly Beach in Sydney, Bahia Todos Santos in Mexico, Punta de Lobo in Chile, Huanchaco in Peru and Ericeira in Portugal as the only surfing reserve sites in the world.
In addition to simply recognizing the excellence of the Gold Coast’s breaks, the designation came with a guarantee from local authorities that they would do what they could to protect the beaches. And for Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, that guarantee meant the possibility of constructing artificial surf breaks within the reserve to ease crowding of the waves on the Gold Coast.
“It makes sure that we look at potential artificial reefs to create other additional waves,” Tate told The New Daily. “It really makes the government realize, and understand, how important surfing is to the Gold Coast. These surf breaks bring a lot of tourism to this area, and a lot of people move here just to live on the Gold Coast to surf these waves.”
But, the potential impact on local government goes far beyond simply constructing a surf break. Due to the new recognition bestowed upon its beaches by Save the Waves, surfers are currently feeling emboldened on the Gold Coast in their attempt to try to stop a cruise ship terminal in the area.
At present, according to the Gold Coast Bulletin, surfers are hoping to get additional beaches north of Burleigh Heads protected to stop any plans for the terminal.
“There is definitely a push for it. It is not a matter of if, but when, they are included,” Save Our Spit Vice President Luke Sorenson told the newspaper of his group’s attempt to get further protection in the area. “I think the mayor was forced into a position where he had to support the World Surf Reserve.”
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