Good afternoon coastal defenders! Here’s your weekly wrap-up of ocean news. We have a lot of exciting updates but first, would you like to join the Surfrider Foundation to address the climate crisis, protect clean water for all, and fight plastic pollution? 

Earth day is April 22nd, both an exciting and reflective day where we can celebrate our victories and assess the work that is still to be done. It is a day that reminds us of both the power of our individual choices and our collective responsibilities. You can help take action by donating to the Surfrider Foundation’s continuous fight to protect the ocean for everyone’s enjoyment. 

Court Victory for Beach Access Rights in California Lent Case

The California Court of Appeals ruled in favor of public beach access last week, after a private homeowner in Malibu spent several years blatantly violating the Coastal Act. The property in question was listed as a vacation rental with a “private beach” and was priced at over $1,000 a night, when in fact the homeowner had illegally blocked all public access to the beach. The court ruled that the California Coastal Commission was justified in fining the homeowner $4,185,000 for these violations, and while this is a hefty fine it is only half of the maximum fine allowed to be issued for this type of violation. Read more about the court case here

Friends of Oceano Dunes to Sue the Coastal Commission 

Friends of the Oceano Dunes has accused the California Coastal Commission of violating environmental laws and claiming to be a lead agency when it is not, in a lawsuit filed Monday challenging the commission’s authority to ban off-road vehicle riding at the Oceano Dunes over the next three years.  This follows a lengthy dispute over the use of off-road vehicles on Oceano Dunes. The Surfrider Foundation has been heavily involved in the banning of offroad vehicles in this area and continues to support the Coastal Commission’s decision to restore natural ecosystems and put an end to environmentally harmful practices on the Oceano beaches. 

Newport Beach to Spend $12 million on Sea Level Rise Mitigation Efforts to Combat Flooding 

Newport Beach’s affluent Balboa island is slowly sinking into Newport Harbor and the ramifications could be costly. Increasingly high tides and Sea Level Rise coupled with intensifying storm events have created a recipe for disaster. The island contains multi-million dollar homes and quaint restaurants and shops. It has been a tourist destination in Newport Beach for decades but now with the dangers posed by Sea Level Rise, the small three foot sea wall barricading the island is not going to cut it. The city of Newport Beach is proposing a $12 million dollar drainage system in order to reduce flooding and protect these residential properties. The project is still waiting for approval from the California Coastal Commission, and if approved could be completed as early as 2024. 

Ghost Gear Posing a Threat to Marine Life 

Derelict fishing gear or ghost gear may not be the majority of plastic in the ocean, but it does pose the greatest direct ecological threat to marine life. Similar to single-use plastic pollution, derelict fishing gear is harmful to our marine environment, even though the amount that gets left in our ocean is estimated to be substantially less than land-based plastics. Learn more about the problem of ghost gear, current research gaps, and organizations working on this issue. 

Join Us in Asking Congress to Invest in Upgrading America’s Failing Sewage Infrastructure and to Protect our Coastal Communities 

America’s wastewater infrastructure is outdated and failing. Years of neglect have resulted in the release of over 900 billion gallons of raw sewage into our waterways each year. Many communities are still not even serviced by sewers, but instead are connected to outdated individual systems, like cesspools, that do not treat wastewater. These antiquated systems leach bacteria and pathogens into the environment – threatening human health, damaging coastal ecosystems, and hurting tourism based economies around the country. 

This is where we need your help. Join us and ask congress to invest in upgrading America’s failing sewage infrastructure and to protect our coasts and our communities.