Through the eyes of the Surfrider Coastal Defenders


The coastline is under great pressure due to human activity in the form of chemical or bacteriological pollution, urban and maritime planning. These are all causes that the Coastal Defenders have to face every day. Dealing with these daunting challenges requires an eminent figure. Simon Witt, with its head high [at 1.95 m] and its blue gaze [like the ocean] has become the referent person for the Surfrider Coastal Defenders’ program.

Tell us about yourself

I am above all a passionate surfer, a Member of the International Association of Surfing Scholars, from the Netherlands [yes, it exists] but also a sailor and an environmentalist. I have now migrated to the Basque Country where I can now fully devote myself to one of my ambitions, which is to protect the coasts of our continent. 

It was during several trips that I became aware of the impact we could have on the shores. As saltwater we are both responsible and witnesses. I think that therefore we should be the first activists. It is for this reason that I wanted to commit myself. 

In what ways are you committed to Surfrider Europe?

I previously had several experiences with the Surfrider Foundation, mainly abroad, as in Morocco, by organizing beach clean-ups or, in Australia, by participating in programs of sensitization of the general public to the quality of the water. I joined the team of Surfrider Europe in Biarritz a little over a year ago. I have been given responsibility of the Coastal Defenders’ project. We have formed a young and dedicated team to organize actions in the field. Based in the Basque offices, we can count on all the available services to finance and create our campaigns.

What were the highlights of this project?

It has been now more than 10 years since the Surfrider Coastal Defenders’ program was launched. To date, there have been more than 80 battles and almost as many wins. Each battle won confirms our actions, just as the decision-makers, the elected officials and the general public, who are more numerous each day. To all of us, we are the strength of this project that has now a great scope. The Coastal Defenders are involved in 9 European countries through 37 local branches. This gives us the opportunity to address all the issues that exist around the continent.

A last word
In 2019, we are ready and determined to win new battles. We are currently involved in several legal actions. They concern the modifications of projects in favor of the environment as solutions to the largest landfill site in France [or even Europe], or a call to action in order to ban oil drilling in Europe. These battles are only possible thanks to the testimonies of private individuals, the support of experts and the commitment of the elected officials. All have, by their actions, decided to become a Coastal Defender.

Help protect our coasts

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our values


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


Surfrider is rooted in the value of sharing and participation through inclusion and diversity.


Surfrider seeks a harmonious relationship between humans and nature.