Hear the word ‘Surfrider’ and instantly imagine the toned and tanned skimming through the surf, tasselled blond locks flowing in the sea breeze. Me too! How wrong I was. Surfrider Foundation Australia are ocean lovers, but also protectors of the marine environment. What does that mean for scuba divers and should we get involved? Diveplanit asked their local Manly President, Jude Furniss (on the right – holding the banner).
Diveplanit: “Can you first briefly explain – what is Surfrider Foundation Australia?”
Jude: “We’re a sea-roots, international non-profit with a simple purpose to protect oceans, waves and beaches through C.A.R.E – that’s Conservation, Activism, Research and Education.
“We aim to inspire and engage the surfing and coastal community in our programs; indeed anyone who is passionate about protecting oceans, waves and beaches – and that would include divers. We’re advocating for the Sydney Marine Park too – and organised a paddle out in support of it ”.
Diveplanit: “What sort of stuff are you involved in?”
Jude: “We’ve been around for 25 years, so we have a well-developed organisation with staff and ambassadors, supported financially by partners and memberships. This allows us to be active in working with councils and communities to develop and implement actionable policies to protect the beaches and local marine environment.”
Diveplanit: “Such as…?”
Jude: “We have policies on a range of issues from Biodiversity Conservation to Climate Change, but one of our current campaigns for example is ‘Rise above Plastic’. We’re out there providing education and running clean-ups for corporate volunteer days; and working with other local environmental organisations to maximise impact.”
Diveplanit: “So if I’m not tanned and toned and don’t own a surfboard can I still join?”
Jude: “Absolutely. Anyone can join – the more of us there are – the bigger the impact we’ll have on issues like the Sydney Marine Park, Shark Control Programs – that work for all of us including the sharks, and things like marine plastic pollution.”
Diveplanit: “I’ve checked out some of your Ambassadors. Pacha Light is definitely in the pro-surfer toned and tanned category, but there are also artists, film-makers, free divers, musicians – even a poet!”
Jude: “Diversity is a strength – but we all have something in common – the ocean and the desire to protect it. So if you want to get involve just check out the website and sign up to a branch near you.”
Diveplanit: “Thanks Jude. I did!”
You can find more about Surfrider, their people, programs and whether there’s a branch near you right here.