Malibu beach declared first-ever World Surfing Reserve
After scouring the globe in search of the perfect wave, a nonprofit organization Saturday declared the waves off Malibu's Surfrider Beach the first-ever World Surfing Reserve — a distinction meant to celebrate surf breaks not only for their size and shape, but also for their cultural significance.
Famous as the epicenter of California surf culture in the 1950s and '60s, Malibu topped a list of more than 125 nominees under the new program by the Save the Waves Coalition.
The designation is largely ceremonial and does not grant greater protection for the surf. But surfers and conservationists hope that enshrining the world's best breaks, an idea based loosely on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites and a similar surfing reserve program in Australia, will one day lead to legally binding protections against development and pollution.
"These special surf spots are the Yosemites of the coast," said Dean LaTourrette, founding partner of World Surfing Reserves. "People need to understand how valuable and fragile they are."
-- Tony Barboza
Photo: Mati Waiya, left, conducts a Chumash Indian sunrise ceremony as surfers watch at Malibu's Surfrider Beach. The renowned break was designated the first-ever World Surfing Reserve. Credit: Christina House / For The Times