World’s best surfers help with coastal conservation

The world’s best surfers gave back to the Margaret River region by helping plant native species, restore coastal dunes and highlight environmental stewardship at Gas Point at the weekend.

Nature Conservation Margaret River Region teamed up with the World Surf League and a collaboration of groups including the Margaret River Coastal Residents Association, Line in the Sand, the Great Southern Reef project, youngsters from the Cowaramup Bay Boardriders and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River for a coastal busy bee on Saturday ahead of the start of the 2022 Margaret River Pro.

Surfers including current world No. 2 Kanoa Igarashi, American Conner Coffin, women’s world No. 4 Lakey Peterson and tour newcomer Bettylou Sakura Johnson said it was amazing to do their bit for coastal conservation – and they urged their legion of fans to do the same.

coastal conservation

“We’re at beautiful Gas Bay and we’re planting some native plants like pigface and spinifex, and doing some restoration of the dunes,” said Lakey Peterson. “No matter where you are in the world there are always local charities or groups that are trying to help out. Wherever you are there’s always something you can do to give back.”

coastal conservation

Kanoa said: “This is a beautiful beach but there are ways we can help preserve it and help protect it for future generations, so it’s great to be a part of what’s happening today.” Bettylou Sakura Johnson echoed those thoughts, saying: “Giving back to communities in general is such a good thing. There are always ways we can help to preserve these ecosystems and inspire future generations to hopefully do the same.”

Nature Conservation Margaret River Region general manager Drew McKenzie said the restoration work was vital, but most importantly the surfers helped highlight what it means to be a custodian of the coast.

“This area has some really high quality surfing breaks, but it’s under pressure from its popularity with surfers, swimmers, fishers and beach walkers. We’re really excited to get in there to start rehabilitating and protecting the site,” Drew said.

“Our message is that every one of us can make a difference. By taking part in this busy bee, the surfers are showing a really local, practical and hands-on way for everyone living in or visiting the Margaret River region to take meaningful action. Change doesn’t come from one person trying to do everything, but when everybody does their little bit to protect this very special part of the world.

“Many of us use the coastline for fun and recreation, but it’s really important we become custodians and stewards for the coast too. Acting with respect and treading lightly when we’re on the coast, learning more about the flora and fauna, joining your local coast care or environment group and giving back – that’s the message we’re trying to spread. Wherever you are in the world, you can go your bit.”

coastal conservation

Mr McKenzie said Nature Conservation is just one of several organisations working collaboratively to ensure the region’s coastal ecosystems are managed according to the best practice. Among them is the Line in the Sand group, which aims to inspire the community to value, respect and care for the coast, and to engage people in restoration activities. And the Great Southern Reef project, run by an independent team of science, media and education professionals working to promote the recognition, stewardship and long-term health of Australia’s kelp forests along the southern coastline of Australia. Drew also praised the Margaret River Coastal Residents Association, whose volunteers work week-in, week-out doing weeding, replanting and restoration of the dunes and coastline.

Genny Broadhurst from the Margaret River Coastal Residents Association, said everyone could be a custodian of the coast by taking a few simple steps. “I’d encourage people to pick up any dog refuse because it can cause native animals to move away from their habitat, and make sure that you take any rubbish away with you as well,” she said.

Read more in this World Surf League article on the coastal restoration day.