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What Is Your Surf Spot Worth?

 /  Dec 4, 2007 3 Min Read  /  Surfing

Craig_coppolaThe surf’s up in Ventura today and even though surface conditions were not perfect this morning, there’s definitely a buzz around the office. If you paddle out today, consider taking part in the following survey after your session. Thanks to Patagoniac Chad Nelsen for this submission:

Researchers at UCLA are studying 22 surf spots in California to better understand the economic importance of some of California’s most popular surfing areas. In order to estimate the value of surfing areas and their economic contribution to coastal communities they are conducting an internet-based survey asking surfers to describe their last surfing experience (within 24 hours of the session). Survey results will be used in economic models that will improve our understanding of the value of surfing areas. In turn these results can help improve the protection and management of surfing areas.

[Photo: Craig Coppola]

The surf spots included in the project are:

North Ocean Beach,  South Ocean Beach (Sloat), Steamer Lane, Pleasure Point, Rincon, C Street, Malibu (Surfrider), El Porto, Manhattan Beach (pier), HB Pier,  Northside, HB Pier,  Southside, 54th & 56th Streets, 40 St. Newport, Salt Creek, Doheny, Trestles, San Onofre, Oceanside North Jetty, Oceanside Pier NS, Swami’s, Cardiff Reef, Seaside Reef

You can help out by filling out the survey next time you surf at one of these locations.

The survey can be found at:

Economists have been studying the value of coastal tourism (one of the biggest money makers in most coastal communities) and the value of beaches for years. One recent study estimated that California beaches generate $17 billion of direct revenue to coastal businesses every year. These figures are important justifications for maintaining beach access, keeping the beaches and water clean, and protecting ocean ecosystems.

Almost none of these studies have looked specifically at surfers or the economic value of surfing spots. Surfers are typically under represented in the beach studies. We all know surfers are an important component of the coastal economy – just look at the all the restaurants and surf shops that cater to surfers.

There are two important measures to understand the economics of surfing. One is the economic contribution surfers make to the towns they visit – this is called “economic impact”. The other is the “economic value” of surfing and surf spots surfers who use them. While many would argue that a special wave or a great surf session with friends is priceless, economic estimates of the value of waves can be a valuable tool when decisions are made that could affect the quality of a wave.

The only study that we are aware of that specifically considered surfing looked at lost surfing opportunities during the 34 days that Huntington Beach was closed when the American Trader spilled oil on the beaches in 1991. The lost surfing was valued at over $16 million for just those 34 days. The researchers at UCLA and other researchers in Australia conducting similar research are hoping to increase the understanding of the economic importance of our most treasured resource.

If you have any questions about the project please contact:

Chad Nelsen

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