In December 2012, the Gold Coast Tweed Branch of Surfrider Foundation brought together key Gold Coast surfing stakeholders to discuss the need to include a Surf Management Plan as part of the City of Gold Coast's Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013-2030. The meeting was called in response to a number of issues affecting the surf culture and surf amenity on the Gold Coast and has resulted in the Surf Management Plan Advisory Committee and the development of the Gold Coast's first ever Surf Management Plan for inclusion in City of Gold Coast's Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013-2030.
The Surf Management Plan Advisory Committee to consult with their constituents about the proposed recommendations for the maintenance and enhancement of surfing on the Gold Coast have released a survey. The survey will remain open until 31st July. The results of the survey will be presented by Fieldworx at the SMPAC workshop number 4 in August 2015.
These issues included:
- The unfortunate death of a surfer at Currumbin Alley as a result of a collision with a fishing vessel in 2010 and several other near misses
- Decades of Bring Back Kirra campaigning
- Various cruise ship terminal proposals
- The Palm Beach Shoreline Project
From that meeting, Dan Ware, Surfrider Foundation Director and Gold Coast Tweed Executive Committee Member, as the lead petitioner, and local councillor/ surfer Greg Betts, presented City Council with a petition to proactively address the concerns of overcrowding, increased vessel traffic, dredging, beach nourishment and development. The main thrust of this was to maintain and enhance surfing assets through innovative design of coastal management initiatives.
City Council had little choice but to accept this Surf Management Plan's inclusion into the Ocean Beaches Strategy as City Council's own research has valued the impact of surfing to the economy at more than $3billion annually. City Council also actively promote the development of the surfing industry and seek to attract surfing tourists to the city.
It was decided that the best way forward in order to represent the tens of thousands of recreational surfers on the Gold Coast was to form the Gold Coast Surf Council (GCSC). Surfrider Foundation was strongly represented on the GCSC with Dan Ware elected as Chairperson and Chris Butler as Secretary of that committee.
Surfrider Foundation and the GCSC actively pursued City Council until the Surf Management Plan Advisory Committee (SMPAC) was announced.
The first SMPAC meeting was held with City of Gold Coast representatives in September 2014. There have been 4 meetings since where City Council coastal engineers have made presentations and also 3 workshops to actually address the issues and propose recommendations to the stated concerns with the primary focus in addressing the overcrowding issues.
The Surf Management Plan Advisory Committee is represented by the following 8 stakeholders:
- Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Branch
- Gold Coast Surf Council
- Gold Coast Point Breaks National Surfing Reserves
- Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypass Project
- Surfing Queensland
- World Surf League
- Surf Life Saving Queensland
- The proposed Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve
Chris Butler is representing Surfrider Foundation and Greg Howell is the proxy on the SMPAC.
Also in attendance at these meetings are Local Government coastal engineers and State Government technical advisors.
Some of the recommendations already made include 5 artificial surf breaks, night surfing, and wave parks. Of course education to all participants who use the surf will be a priority. Of importance was the recommendation that artificial breaks should be primarily to enhance surfing and secondary to decrease beach erosion.
The issues of dredging, beach nourishment and development have yet to be discussed.
The final SMPAC recommendations will be tabled at a full City of Gold Coast Council meeting late in August this year. Once this has been approved (and it appears very likely), the Draft Surf Management Plan will be sent out for wider community consultation and feedback before the Plan is implemented. This will be the world's first Surf Management Plan and this process could be adopted worldwide.