1st legally protected epic surfbreak in Europe
Mundaka’s Surfing Reserve was officially declared legally protected by public bodies, taking into consideration the singularities of the wave and its natural heritage. Mundaka is now part of Urdaibai’s Biosphere Reserve, Basque Country, Spain.
The marine and coastal environments, waves, and surfbreaks suffer frequent hazards, threats and impacts worldwide. Mundaka has not been an exception. As in most of the breaks around the Spain, Mundaka lacked legal protection, adequate environmental and cultural evaluation, and no efficient territorial management for its natural heritage. The surf break of Mundaka is a representative part of the Basque Country and the world coastal heritage. However, it was excluded from environmental strategies and land management policies. Therefore, in 2015 we were almost on the verge of seeing it disappear because of the impacts caused by dredging.
Mundaka was threatened and endangered, and required protection urgently. The National Surfbreak Protection Program of Spain was created by members of the Surf and Nature Alliance in 2012 to work closely with local communities, with the aim of providing scientific, technical, and activist solutions to enhance long-term legal protection and also to solve environmental issues that affect different scales of Mundaka.
Our proposal for Declaration of Mundaka Surf Reserve empowered the municipality of Mundaka to officially designate this reserve in 2015. The proposal favored the legal protection of this epic wave in the management and conservation plans of the Basque Government for its later declaration as officially protected spot.
The world-renowned surfbreak was legally protected in 2016 in the Basque Country, becoming the 1st European world-class wave officially and legally protected by public bodies. The protections took into account the singularities of the wave as a natural heritage and as part of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, Basque Country, Spain.
The declarations proposed or proclaimed by other organizations in other European surfbreaks and world-class waves were a mere declaration of intentions. These “Paper Reserves” did not have official recognition in the eyes of local laws and authorities. These legal protections promote the value of the wave as natural heritage, strategic socio-economic, sportive, and cultural resource.
Once the threats were detected due to the unsustainable coastal development, and the first critical impacts on the estuary were completed, the Surf & Nature Alliance members began the implementation of our innovative method of Triple Assessment of the Surf Breaks. We brought assistance to Mundaka Surf Club in order to make the proposal to their Municipality. Subsequently, the declaration was made and Mundaka became a Surf Reserve in 2015. This world-class epic wave was justified as a natural heritage and a strategic, socio-economic and cultural resource for the municipality. This process also brought to light the commitment to incorporate the wave into the protected natural space already existing in Urdaibai.
The legal protection proposal was accepted and, in 2016, the Vizcaya General Assemblies approved a non-law proposal for the public declaration of the Mundaka wave as a space protected for its “natural and cultural heritage.” At the end of 2016, the Department of Environment and Territorial Policy of the Basque Government approved the inclusion of Mundaka’s surfbreak as a “singular natural element” within the Decree of approval of the new Master Plan for land Management (PRUG) of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve.
Fotos: Luis Basaldua