- WSL / Juani Gayol

The United Nations theme for World Ocean Day this year is ‘Planet Ocean' as a call to put the ocean first. As land dwellers, humans often have a hard time keeping the ocean in mind. Surfing can help us move toward a more ocean-centric way of thinking.

More than 80% of marine debris is made up of plastic pollution. Surfers know this from first-hand experience, from bumping into trash swirling in the lineup to worrying about ingesting microplastics when pummeled by a large wave. And so, keeping trash and plastic away from waterways just makes sense to a surfer.

WSLOO El Salvador River intercept team members from Oriente Salvaje and Paso Pacifico gather after placing a barrier on the Chilama River. This rivers feeds the Punta Chilama break, also known as Punta Roca. - WSL / Paso Pacifico

We believe that this surfer perspective can inspire a movement to beat plastic pollution.

At the start of Surf City El Salvador Pro, surfers, environmental nonprofits, government officials are joining together with WSL One Ocean to commemorate World Ocean Day. Those gathered will view the installation of river interceptor to stop ocean-bound plastics and participate in the launch of a public awareness campaign by painting an ocean-themed mural. This day is just the beginning of a two-year effort to catalyze change in plastic consumption and its disposal in El Salvador.

Thanks to grants from WSL PURE and Corona, we at Oriente Salvaje and Paso Pacifico are installing river interceptors at rivers near point breaks on El Salvador's central coast and the Wild East region. Our alliance with WSL One Ocean and the surfing community is a logical one. Oriente Salvaje is devoted to developing a sustainable surf destination in the ‘Wild East' region of El Salvador. Paso Pacifico works with communities and landowners to restore and protect coastal ecosystems across Central America.

Removing Plastic Pollution From Waterways To Spark Community Engagement
For the Surf City #ElSalvadorPro, WSL teamed up with grantee partners Paso Pacifico, Oriente Salvaje, and Medio Ambiente SV to protect El Salvador's well-known rivers from the impacts of plastic pollution.

The interceptors are constructed of floating PVC tubes connected to steel frames that can stop plastic debris from passing through while allowing fresh water and fish to pass freely. The structures are moveable, enabling rapid response to changing rainfall and levels of pollution. Their design was inspired by the organization Sungai Watch, also a WSL PURE and Corona beneficiary, but adapted to hydrological conditions specific to the rivers that feed El Salvador's most emblematic point breaks. Plastic pollution and other inorganic debris retrieved from the interceptors will be sorted for recycling. Over the two-year period, we will remove over forty tons of ocean-bound plastics from rivers.

In collaboration with CORSATUR, El Salvador's tourism agency, river interceptors have already been placed near the renowned surf breaks El Sunzal and La Bocana breaks. The local community has quickly joined on board by offering volunteer support from logistics and, among local business owners, conversations have turned to plastic pollution. The river interceptors not only stop debris, but they also represent a powerful story that can engage people and motivate them to change their behaviors around plastic pollution.

WSLOO El Salvador Professional surfer and WSL event wild card Bryan Perez (SLV) joins Ligia Jimenez and local volunteers for the WSL One Ocean initiative. - WSL / Juani Gayol

In El Salvador, it is estimated that more than half of plastic waste makes its way into waterways. Support from WSL One Ocean is also helping us to launch a national campaign to reduce plastic consumption. This campaign shares art and community engagement at communities near the coast, and an awareness campaign at the national level. The campaign is upbeat and positive, focused on the rich beauty offered by El Salvador's rivers and lakes and the personal responsibility we all have in caring for them.

The campaign starts at Punta Chilama, also known as Punta Roca, the site of the Pro Tour. Salvadorean artist Armando Márquez has designed a mural which carries the campaign slogan "Esto es Tuyo" (This is Yours), to build local pride in the rich and biodiverse coastline. The mural uses bold colors with strong outlines that almost permanently imprint the powerful Punta Chilama wave in the mind of the viewer. Shorebirds grace the rocky coast of the mural, and their presence, reminds us that this place is also theirs. From there, this campaign will expand to messaging to inspire and protect the Chilama River and its point break through educational workshops with the local community and outreach in the city of La Libertad. We will then also launch a national awareness campaign through radio, television, and social media, but especially targeting communities in upper watersheds and on the coast.

WSLOO El Salvador Fernando Gonzalez address volunteers at the WSL One Ocean activation. - WSL / Juani Gayol

Perhaps waves can offer us a lesson. As energy moves the ocean water, it is the friction with the seafloor that help to form the wave, transforming a moving, salty body of water into a powerful and inspiring wave. In a way, the installation of river interceptors can also be a point of friction, helping to tell and clarify the problem and giving energy to a campaign to shift the way we consume and dispose of single use plastics.

Ultimately, ‘Esto es Tuyo'. The ocean, its waves and its richness are yours, and ours. It's up to us to put the ocean first with our everyday actions.

WSLOO El Salvador For the Surf City #ElSalvadorPro, WSL teamed up with grantee partners Paso Pacifico, Oriente Salvaje, and Medio Ambiente SV to protect El Salvador's well-known rivers from the impacts of plastic pollution. - WSL / Juani Gayol

To learn more and get involved with the partners involved in these efforts, visit the links below:

As surfers, the ocean is our playground and our stadium. Getting involved in protecting and conserving the ocean is critical for us today and for future generations. Join the "Speak Up for the Ocean" campaign and show us what you are doing to protect our one ocean. Here's how you can help:


  • Record yourself doing a sustainable action. Big or small we want to see it all.
  • Post your video to your socials, tag @WSL and @WSLOneOcean and use the hashtag #WSLOneOcean
  • Celebrate all the people, communities and initiatives who are collectively protecting our one ocean


LEARN MORE in the Speak Up For the Ocean press release.

WSL One Ocean is supported both globally and regionally by Corona, in addition to Shiseido and YETI.

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