It all started with a demonstration


It all starts with one step. In 1990, a first thought followed by a decision to act brought Surfrider Europe to where it is today. The fight for ocean protection took root in one action and sparked the foundation for 30 years of commitment. This is the fifth part of a series dedicated to celebrating three decades of Surfrider Foundation Europe. Let’s take a look back at the foundation of mobilization, starting with a first demonstration in 1991.  

It started with :  

One demonstration : the Adour descente

One year : 1991 

One mobilization : 300 surfers 


Since then, mobilizing has been part of Surfrider Europe’s DNA. Discover three demonstrations that marked the last three decades.  

1995 : Gotcha Lacanau Pro

On August 20th, 1995, Surfrider Europe organized the « 1000 surfers for oceans’ survival » operation during the Gotcha Lacanau Pro final. Hundreds of board sports enthusiasts united in a giant human chain on the beach and in the water to demand attention to the degrading state of the ocean.  

Amateur surfers chained side by side with pros like Rob Machado, Barton Lynch, and Martin Potter infiltrated the competition and created an eye-catching image that grabbed the attention of thousands of spectators present on the day as well media attention. 


2000 : The Wharf demonstration

The Wharf is an unfinished pipe line, measuring 800 meters, where trash coming from Arcachon Bay accumulates. Positioned very close to the beaches, pollution often piled up on the surrounding dunes. When Surfrider Europe initiated its demonstration, the area had already been under public scrutiny for several years.  

Around 250 people answered the call for action and assembled at the start of the pipe line on December 10th, 2000. All participants then laid down on the sand to symbolize a « dead beach ». The ADREMCA (Association for the Defense, Research and Studies on the Aquitaine coast) and city officials from the town of Biscarosse were present in the effort to protest against trash and toxic mud immersion the Arcachon’s harbour.  


Later in 2012, a new demonstration was held in the same region against Smurfit Kappa, one of Europe’s largest packaging companies. A ruptured tank in the Biganos facility (Gironde) caused environmental damages and over 150 people joined the boycott of nautical activities. Three years later, Smurfit Kappa was found guilty and held responsible for the pollution.


2015 : Ocean Climax Festival

To commemorate 25 years of fighting for ocean preservation, Surfrider Europe worked with the Darwin ecosystem, an alternative co-working and creation space in Bordeaux, to found the Ocean Climax Festival. Personalities such as Hubert Reeves, Ségolène Royal and Tom Frager, as well as local artists and skaters, took part in this event to connect art and Ocean issues. 

With the COP21 approaching, Surfrider Europe’s action was amplified. The foundation was thrilled by the Paris accord signing and its application into society one year later. For the first time in these types of important meetings, ocean preservation was at the center of the solution’s for climate change. It was a victory to celebrate a year-long mobilization for the members of the Ocean and Climate platform.    

Three decades of mobilization and Surfrider Europe’s network is only getting stronger and powerful. Thanks to the determination, passion and enthusiasm of Surfrider’s volunteer community – those who have been with the organization since Day 1 and equally to those newly joined – many more mobilization victories are on the horizon. As this community grows, so does the voice of the Ocean!

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The passion for the oceans, the coastline and the pleasures animate everyone who supports Surfrider and guides the organization's action.


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