Protecting the Ocean : the Surfrider Coastal Defenders


At a personal scale we can all commit to protect what is dear to us. Even more than that, we should all care about our future, and this future is intrinsically linked to our environment, including our Ocean. With this article we are offering you to draw this link trough the story of Mariana who is part of our network of Coastal Defender. 

A story of coastal protection for the Ocean 

Mariana joined the Porto chapter three years ago, where a small but united team is working to carry out Surfrider’s values and work in the Porto region of Portugal. She was first introduced to Surfrider by entering in a photography contest, depicting her link to the Ocean.  

The Ocean provides us half of the oxygen we breath, it gives us food, and houses a rich biodiversity. It is complex and beautiful at the same time. I would say it is my favorite part on the planet.” 

Mariana is committed to the Ocean through volunteering but also with her work. She coordinates a project focused on marine litter. One of her missions is to create tools and encourage best practices to reduce plastic in the aquaculture sector :

Another aspect of her work is to deal with the role of women in the sector of the blue economy. 

The role of women in the blue economy is a bit undermined and under looked. For many it is a men only driven sector. But in reality, women make up most of the work force in this area, but, they have the least protected job and are paid less. By changing this narrative, we can allow women to have leading roles and be part of decision bodies to open more doors and opportunities for them.” 

Mariana is a great example of women having an important role in decision-making and action to protect the Ocean. But what does it mean to be a Coastal Defender? 

The Coastal Defenders at the battlefront for clean water 

The Coastal Defenders of Surfrider Porto leads the clean water campaign. The aim of this campaign was to take water sample in the beaches of Porto to have complete results on different water parameters. Some of the parameters analyzed such as chemical pollution are not used to determine whether the bathing areas are clean or not. Thanks to those data they created a graph to display the results they found.  

In other words, this mean that in some surf spots or beaches, people were allowed to swim and enjoy water because blue flags were up in the sky, but pollution level were also up in the water. The role of the Coastal Defenders is to protect the local communities. By alerting on the risks and the pollution present in some areas they give people an overview of what they should know. For Mariana this clean water campaign illustrates the daily fight of the Coastal Defenders :  

“For me, being a Coastal Defender means a lot of things like supporting local communities. With this survey we provide information for the people who enjoy the beach. We want to protect our community.” 

Water quality is one big challenge for the Coastal Defenders, in the Netherlands, France or Portugal, they are all fighting for the same right: having access to clean water.  

What can we do? 

As a citizen, you might witness harmful practices for the environment such as plastic pollution, water pollution, or devastating coastal planning. You can act with us to report an issue.  

You can report an issue by filling this form or send an email to 

The Surfrider Coastal Defenders are people just like you who wish to commit for the environment and protect their local community. Everyone can become a Coastal Defender, the only thing you need is the will to take action. Today, the Surfrider Coastal Defenders have won 85 campaigns on the field all over Europe. This European network is supported in its actions by Surfrider Foundation Europe with currently 12 campaigns in progress. 

“We have to be conscious that no matter how far or close we are to the Ocean, we all have an impact on it, and a role to play. It is only once that we have acknowledged this that we can act. We don’t need 10 people doing it perfectly but millions doing it imperfectly” 

Thank you to all the people who defend the Ocean. Our fight continues. 

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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.