About World Surfing Reserves

Our Mission

World Surfing Reserves proactively identifies, designates and preserves outstanding waves, surf zones and surrounding environments around the world.

Save The Waves Coalition, along with key partners National Surfing Reserves (NSR) Australia and the International Surfing Association (ISA), launched World Surfing Reserves in 2009. The program serves as a global model for preserving wave breaks and their surrounding areas by recognizing and protecting the key environmental, cultural, economic and community attributes of surfing areas.

How World Surfing Reserves Works

The program is broken down into five main phases:

  • 1

    Nomination - Application Process

  • 2

    Selection Process

  • 3

    Stewardship Planning Process

  • 4

    Official Dedication

  • 5

    Ongoing Management and Evaluation

After applying and being selected, each WSR location creates a Local Stewardship Council and
site-specific Stewardship plan to implement and manage the reserve.

Interested in submitting a WSR application?

Program Governance

World Surfing Reserves is governed by a global five-member Executive Committee with the assistance of a Vision Council:

Nik Strong-Cvetich, Save The Waves Coalition

Nik is the Executive Director of Save The Waves Coalition. With over 10 years of experience leading innovative conservation projects, Nik’s mission is to help provide coastal communities with the tools they need to be effective in valuing, protecting and managing their own natural resources. Before joining Save The Waves, Nik founded professional training programs in conservation project management, worked as a consultant in ecotourism development in coastal communities worldwide, and built innovative programs focused on water resource issues in the Monterey Bay area. In addition to Save The Waves, he is an adjunct professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, teaching on topics water resource issues and non-profit management. He holds a BA from Lewis and Clark College and a Masters in Public Administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, with a focus on conservation and international non-profit management. He has traveled and surfed widely and is fluent in Spanish, French and Italian.

Chad Nelsen, Surfrider Foundation

Chad Nelsen is the CEO at the Surfrider Foundation where he has worked since 1998. At Surfrider, Chad is responsible for strategic guidance regarding environmental campaigns at the local through national level, and he oversees all environmental programs, operations, fundraising and strategy. Prior to joining Surfrider, Chad was a NOAA Coastal Zone Management Fellow working with Oregon’s state coastal zone management program. He is an alumni of Brown University and Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and has his Doctorate at UCLA in the Environmental Science and Engineering program, where he focused on the economics of surfing through a comprehensive study of Trestles in Southern California. Through his work on coral reef conservation in Puerto Rico, he earned recognition from the US Coral Reef Task Force.

Zach Plopper, WildCoast

Zach is WILDCOAST’s Coastal and Marine Director and in charge of all matters related to California’s Marine Protected Areas. He began managing WILDCOAST’s Wildlands Conservation Program. His GIS expertise, 15 years travel experience on the Baja California Peninsula and mastery in the field helped WILDCOAST acheive the conservation of over 330 miles of coastline in Northwest Mexico as a private protected area. Zach holds a Bachelor Degree in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California – San Diego and a Master Degree in Urban Planning from the University of California – Los Angeles.

Jess Ponting, Center for Surf Research

Jess Ponting was born in Wales, grew up in Australia, and lived in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Fiji before joining San Diego State University as an assistant professor in sustainable tourism in 2008. Jess began a science degree at Sydney University and finished a degree in Resource and Environmental Management three years later at the Australian National University. While a community development worker in Papua New Guinea he realized the potential for sustainable tourism to be an economic driver for remote communities in need and formed the links to surf tourism in a subsequent extended surf trip through the eastern island of Indonesia. He worked on a surf charter boat off the north west coast of Sumatra before carrying out the first empirical research into sustainable surf tourism in his Masters degree, and completing the world’s first PhD to focus on sustainable surf tourism management. He has subsequently worked as a sustainable surf tourism consultant in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji – where he authored the Fiji surf tourism development plan, and Mexico. Jess believes that effectively planned and managed surf tourism can positively change the world for thousands of coastal communities around the world, and that well informed passionate and motivated surfers can be game changing leaders for a sustainable future.

Scott Atkinson, Conservation International

Scott R. Atkinson is a marine management profession with over 20 years experience supporting marine conservation projects in the Asia- Pacific Region. Mr. Atkinson has helped to design and implement complex marine management projects in Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Timor-Leste, the Solomon Islands, the Federated State of Micronesia, and Hawaii. His focus is on supporting local practitioners to build necessary skills and capacity to effectively and sustainably implement marine management initiatives. Mr. Atkinson served as the Western Pacific Program Officer for World Wildlife Fund for over five years, the Director of Marine Conservation for the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii for two years, Senior Director for Marine Conservation for the Community Conservation Network for five years, and most recently for the last five years as the Technical Advisor to Conservation International’s Coral Triangle Initiative Program and the Hawaii Fish Trust Program. Mr. Atkinson’s person interests include writing, surfing, rock climbing, and natural history. Mr. Atkinson lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.

World Surfing Reserves Vision Council

The Vision Council votes to approve any new World Surfing Reserves and consists of the following international leaders:

  • Chad Nelsen (USA)
  • Dean LaTourrette (USA)
  • Drew Kampion (USA)
  • Fernando Aguerre (USA/Argentina)
  • Hugo Tagholm (UK)
  • Jess Ponting (Australia)
  • João De Macedo (USA/Portugal)
  • Len Materman (USA)
  • Carlos Antonio Ferrer (Peru)
  • Michael Blum (USA)
  • Pedro Bicudo (Portugal)
  • Tony Butt (Spain/UK)
  • Steve Hawk (USA)
  • Neil Lazarow (Australia)
  • Stéphane Latxague (France)
  • Will Henry (USA)
  • Zach Plopper (USA)

The World Surfing Reserve process. From the Vision Council and WSR applications…

…to the dedication of the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve.

Save The Waves Coalition, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is the lead organization in this effort and reserves are implemented through a partnership between World Surfing Reserves and local communities.