Concern about marine pollution and conservation is growing amongst UK surfers, a recent online survey aimed at the surfing public has shown. The survey aimed to find out if those who enjoy surfing as a leisure pursuit are concerned about the marine environment and conservation issues. It was commissioned in January 2013 by Sea-Changers in collaboration with Surfers Against Sewage, and was completed by 300 surfers.


The key headlines from the survey were:

  • Over three quarters of surfers (77%) describe themselves as ‘very concerned’ about marine conservation issues.

  • 94% of surfers believe pollution from sewage outlets to be a quite / very serious problem.

  • 98% of surfers believe marine litter to be a quite / very serious problem.

  • 92% of surfers believe inappropriate coastal development to be a quite /very serious problem. 

  • There is evidence of growing concern about the marine environment over the last 5 years, and high proportions of surfers say that they are seeing more sewage and pollution (60%) and litter (73%) when they surf.

  • Surfers say that they are keen to minimise their own environmental impact and 95% say they would actively choose businesses that are working to protect the marine environment.

  • Over half (54%) of surfers that took part in the survey agreed that they would even be “prepared to pay a small donation (e.g. £1, $1, €1) each time they go surfing, to protect the marine environment.”

Survey respondents displayed considerable knowledge about the issues facing the oceans, suggesting that surfers are passionate advocates for the environment they enjoy. One surfer summed up the concerns thus: “There will be nothing left of it, Just dead water, if we do not stop abusing it.”

Sea-Changers believes that the results of this survey represent a growing desire among UK surfers and other sea-users to see much more being done to protect the marine environment enjoyed by so many. The charity hopes surfing businesses will see the results of this survey as a strong reason to get involved with marine conservation and to become Sea-Changers partners. The survey will also help Sea-Changers to target fundraising in ways that really connect with the surfing community.

Support for Surfers Against Sewage also highlights growing environmental awareness amongst UK surfers. The organisation has seen a huge increase in engagement with its community beach cleans, Sewage Alert Service and the wide range of environmental initiatives it delivers specifically for the surfing community.

Hugo Tagholm, Executive Director of Surfers Against Sewage said “Surfers Against Sewage has been at the forefront of representing the UK surfing community on environmental, health and
wave protection issues for over 20 years. The survey strongly reflects sentiments we see regularly amongst supporters at our beach cleans, campaign actions and community initiatives. We are seeing fast growing engagement with our campaigns on marine litter, sewage pollution and wave protection, demonstrating a community taking action on the issues they are directly affected by, and care passionately about. We’d encourage all surfers to join SAS to get more involved in protecting waves, oceans and beaches nationwide.”

Helen Webb, Co-Founder of Sea-Changers said: “It is really important that Sea-Changers understand the issues and concerns of the surfing community regarding marine conservation. Our aim is to develop a community of Sea-Changers, concerned businesses and individuals from the sailing, surfing, diving and sea-using community. Each community has different perspectives on marine conservation and if we are to successfully harness the enthusiasm of those who enjoy the sea we need to be well informed. That is why surveys like this are helpful. One of the most striking findings from the survey was the almost unanimous response from respondents saying they would be more supportive of marine businesses that show a responsible attitude. This is
a key message we need to get across when we speak to surf-related retailers and service providers.”

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