SAN CLEMENTE, Calif., Oct. 28, 2015 -- The Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's ocean, waves and beaches, in partnership with Point 97, announced the completion of ocean recreation studies in several regions of the U.S. including New England, the Mid-Atlantic, Washington State, and Oregon.
The recreation mapping studies, conducted with support from government agencies engaged in regional ocean planning, document the immense popularity and economic benefits of ocean recreation in the U.S. Data from twelve U.S. states is being used to identify and protect key recreational areas along the coast. This information includes both geospatial data on human use patterns, as well as economic information that quantifies the benefits to communities.
The findings show that millions of Americans visit the coast each year to participate in recreation. The most popular activities include beach going, hiking, swimming, surfing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. Additionally, ocean recreation generates tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits for coastal communities and the nation as a whole, through hotel visits, shopping, dining and other trip-related expenditures. The economic value of ocean recreation dwarfs that of oil and gas, commercial fishing and other ocean sectors by a wide margin.
"Surfrider is honored to represent coastal recreational users in regional ocean planning," said Pete Stauffer, Environmental Director for Surfrider Foundation. "As new industries move to develop the ocean, we need to make sure that beach goers, surfers, kayakers, swimmers, and others have a strong voice in decision-making. These recreational studies will help ensure there is enough space for all of us in the ocean."
The Role of Recreational Studies and Ocean Planning
Regional ocean planning is a key element of the National Ocean Policy that was created through Executive Order 13547 by President Barack Obama in 2010. The primary goal of the National Ocean Policy is to protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources.
Ocean planning is a public process that brings together ocean stakeholders to plan for the future use and conservation of the ocean. As the ocean becomes more populated, planning is crucial to ensure there is enough space for all interested parties. Representing non-fishing recreational users, Surfrider's recreational studies support ocean planning efforts in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Washington State and Oregon, by identifying important recreational or ecological value and helping to determine where future development of the ocean may occur.
In Oregon, Surfrider helped protect dozens of the most popular coastal areas through the state's Territorial Sea Plan process, ensuring the socioeconomic values of these iconic places will be maintained for future generations. In the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Washington State, Surfrider is working to achieve similar outcomes, with final ocean plans scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.
"The Surfrider study provided Oregon with solid spatial data about a wide range of ocean recreational uses that contribute significantly to the economies of coastal communities. The Surfrider team proved to be a talented, tireless, and professional group of individuals who made certain that the process and the product would be useful to Oregon, and to any other state that chose to conduct a similar project," said Paul Klarin, Marine Program Coordinator with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.
About Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world's oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 250,000 supporters, activists and members worldwide.