Save The Waves Coalition is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the coastal environment, with an emphasis on the surf zone, and educating the public about its value. We are a devoted group of surfers, scientists, and activists, who share a common belief that our wild coastal areas around the world are precious and valuable, and need to be protected.
Save The Waves fought its first battle early in 2001 on the island of Madeira, southwest of Portugal, when the government proposed building a large marina in the village of Lugar de Baixo, directly on top of a perfect right point break. Photographer and journalist Will Henry, a surfer from California and frequent visitor to the island, learned of the marina project from his Madeiran friends during his annual trip to the island. During his visit that year he witnessed the first stages of the project, as tractors and cranes hastily built a seawall along the shoreline at the point. Within days a perfect wave was damaged by backwash from the newly altered shore. Local surfers, a young group of no more than 40 or so at the time, felt powerless to do anything about the destruction.
Henry decided to do something about it.
He returned to the U.S. and, vowing to fight such needless coastal destruction around the world, formed Save The Waves Coalition. The organization would bring numerous environmental groups together, forming an alliance and igniting a campaign that brought forth a huge outcry from surfers and coastal advocates around the world. In Madeira, reacting to pressure from Henry and Save The Waves, the government relented, and moved the marina to another bay, resulting in Save The Waves’ first victory (for more information on the Lugar de Baixo campaign, click here).
Since then, Save The Waves has taken on similar battles in many other places around the world. The organization learned that the problems that threatened surfing coastline in Madeira were not unique, but in fact were happening in many other countries, often where no groups existed to help protect the coast. The organization now is involved with programs and campaigns in numerous countries worldwide, helping local organizations and individuals protect their own coastline. Save The Waves has also added proactive programs such as documentary films and research projects, to further educate the public about the high environmental, social, and economic value of pristine surfing coastline.