Hawaii Establishes First Surf Reserves

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle issued an executive order Wednesday to establish surfing reserves at two of Hawaii’s most important and well-known surfing areas off the island of Oahu. 

The executive order “acknowledges the cultural, sports and historic significance of important surf sites in Hawaii,” and “raises public awareness about the importance of protecting, nourishing and developing Hawaii’s world famous surf sites.”

The Governor’s order establishes the Duke Kahanamoku Surfing Reserve, which includes surf breaks bounded by the Ala Wai and the Waik?k? War Memorial Natatorium, as well as the North Shore Surfing Reserve, which includes surf breaks from Ali`i Beach in Hale`iwa to Sunset Beach.

The executive order does not provide any funding for the surfing reserves, but enables the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), which is statutorily responsible for managing all waters and coastal areas of the state, to receive donations that could be used for signs or markers that identify the surf reserves.  In addition, under the executive order, DLNR may assist in promoting federal, state and county collaboration in identifying, nourishing and protecting Hawaii surfing reserves.

The idea to designate surfing reserves in Hawaii was first introduced during the 2010 session of the State Legislature by Senator Fred Hemmings, a former World Surfing Champion.  Sen. Hemmings’ bill was approved unanimously by the State Senate, but was recommitted by the House in the final hours of the last day of the session. Governor Lingle’s executive order revived the measure.

Sen. Hemmings’ idea to establish surfing reserves in Hawaii was patterned after the National Surfing Reserves Australia program, which currently recognizes about a dozen iconic surfing sites throughout Australia because of their intrinsic environmental, heritage, sporting and cultural value.

"Hawaii has some of the most famous and beautiful surf sites in the world and its native sons, such as Senator Fred Hemmings, have deservedly gained international recognition in the sport of surfing," said Governor Lingle, a Republican. "I am pleased we can formally acknowledge the cultural, sports, and historic significance of surfing in Hawaii."

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