June 20th is International Surfing Day.

Founded by Surfing Magazine, International Surfing Day unites surfers from around the world in celebration of the sport of surfing, and encourages all ocean lovers to share and acknowledge their mutual love of surfing and our beach and ocean environments by participating in local beach activities, paddle outs and any other forms of engagement with the ocean.

The annual observance, now in its fifth year had gained momentum and Surfrider Foundation has been hosting beach clean-ups and other events in locations throughout the world. This year, International Surfing Day boasts over 100 participants, including all 70 Surfrider Foundation chapters throughout the United States and beach clean-ups worldwide, including events in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Australia, Japan, Mexico, France, United Kingdom, Peru and elsewhere.

International Surfing Day 2008 @ Hiratsuka (Kanagawa), Japan. Image Courtsey of SFJ

This is a great opportunity for us surfers to celebrate our sport by simply doing what we love to do most – going surfing.

It’s also a great opportunity to remind everyone about the need and importance to protect our oceans, waves and beaches.

~ Evan Slater, renown big wave surfer and Editor of Surfing Magazine

Surfrider Foundation’s mission is

Protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches for all people.

I believe most people (or perhaps EVERYONE) loves beaches and oceans. Even if they are not surfers.

Some may have a deeper connection (and affection) with the ocean, like us surfers, and some may have light connection but there is no argument that we all have some degree of personal connection and that we all want a clean and safe ocean environment for now and beyond.

Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education.

SURFRIDER recognizes the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the planet’s coasts are necessary and irreplaceable. SURFRIDER is committed to preserving natural living and non-living diversity and ecological integrity of the coastal environment.

SURFRIDER promotes the right of low-impact, free and open access to the world’s waves and beaches for all people. SURFRIDER acts to preserve this right of access.

~ Via Surfrider’s mission statement

What’s unique about SURFRIDER and why I like it is that we are group of ocean lovers who are at the forefront of activism. We seek to be at the cutting edge of activism through our creativity, online/offline engagement tools and simple messaging.

Most environmental organizations that I encounter usually have so much they want to say and end up saying too much to make people aware of the issues they are facing. But we know this is not smart nor effective ways of communication. Moreover, it can easily create a negative image about the organization being too hard core to interact and get involved.

SURFRIDER is, in many ways REALLY hard core. We love things that are REAL and we also value ENJOYMENT and FUN. Because that’s the key to continuity and success.

But we often tend to forget the FUN part when we are so focused on a serious cause. We tend to focus more on the “How To” instead of “Why” we need to protect our oceans.

That was exactly the case with Surfider Foundation Japan’s Rokkasho Campaign.We started the camaign two years ago after visiting the Rokkasho Nuclear Reprocessing plant/a> in Aomori.

We’ve created online petitions, video(with the support from Jack Johnson), participated in demos, events and have met with the Japanese government to stop the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant from dumping harmful materials into the ocean. The plant discharges radiation into the air and ocean. These elements are being dumped into a strong southbound current and will highly likely to reach the most popular surf breaks in Japan – where I surf often.

All the things we experienced were truly informative and educational. But like many other environmental NGOs, as time pass and situation doesn’t change (or gets worse), we enter an endless battle, then people burn out and lose hope in finding solutions. It’s much much easier to give up and drop out.

So we started to question ourselves.

Do we know what we are really doing?
Are we comfortable with what we are doing?
Are we having fun?
Is this the right way?
Is this SURFRIDER style?

After series of discussions amongst the team members, we decided to re-structure the campaign, simplyfing our actions and messages. Just going back to basics.

Sharing our love for the ocean.

We know the oceans cover 70+% of the earth.
We know the oceans gives birth to many living species – just like a mother.
This said, we came up with the concept that our mother ocean should be protected by mothers and daughters of Earth.

We wanted to be different and yet be simple.
We wanted to show that even surfer girls were serious about this issue.
So we embraced the SEXY, COOL AND FUN ethic for other people to connect and engage.

Surfer Girls rocked.
We welcomed the officials with professional Hula Dancers and lei, to show our appreciation.

Additional 16,657 petitions that are aimed at the Rokkasho issue were submitted to the Japanese government. This brings the total to 48,367 since the inception of the campain in September 07.

The message is simple and will always remain so.

Respect our ocean.
Keep our ocean clean and safe for future generations

This is SURFRIDER stlye.
A a new era of activism – Activism 2.0.