We are a blessing.
2020/21 has been a banner year for surfing with booming participation, exploding participation, robust growth in participation. Of course, we, here, all feel very grouchy about it and salve our grump by openly mocking a World Surf League that, somehow, has not been able to take advantage of a participatory windfall but, still, those stuffed lineups hurt.
Well, at least the spike is both doing wonderful things for the environment and local economies as spotlighted in the delightful new field of “surfonomics” just profiled in the august BBC.
Per the story, “The idea of using economics to assess the value of surfing resources, branded “surfonomics”, has been around for a little over a decade. An early study in the field centred on Mavericks in California, a famous break that throws up waves of 10-30ft (3-9m), and draws in huge crowds of spectators. Big wave surfer João de Macedo, a campaigner who was involved in the research, says Mavericks already had legal protection as a national marine sanctuary, but surfonomics “was something that when you talk to a politician [they could use to] justify conservation in a more practical way”. The net economic value of Mavericks was finally estimated at about $24m (£17m) a year filtering through its local tourism industry.”
$24m a year.
Does the figure surprise?
A drop in the bucket compared to jolly old Great Britain where local surfonomists estimate our Pastime of Queens squirts an extra $2.5b into the coffers which can then be used to solve mental health crises related to feeling isolated from Europe etc.
The International Association of Surfing Academics studied Lobitos in Peru, and showed how protecting its environment, reefs, etc. was important to wave health and surfers would then kick down $3.6m while they came to enjoy. The government was so impressed that it became the very first country to give legal protection to waves.
Other nations are now following suit.
But did you know we were so generous and that our generosity made the world a better place?
Thank you, surfonomics.
I shall sleep well tonight for the first time in, like, eight years.