LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA (Monday, February 26, 2024) - Today, the World Surf League (WSL) announced the recipients of the fourth annual WSL PURE Grant Program. WSL's non-profit partner, WSL PURE, has awarded grant funding to organizations whose work is in alignment with the WSL's global initiative to protect and conserve our one ocean, WSL One Ocean.

The 2024 recipients span the world with projects in Hawaii, Australia, El Salvador, Brazil, Tahiti, Fiji, and California. Each grantee was selected based on its alignment to WSL PURE's environmental pillars as well as each organization's demonstrated dedication to diversity, environmental justice, and Indigenous engagement. The selected organizations each have a unique impact commitment, and while WSL PURE grantees typically have a connection to the locations on the 2024 Championship Tour, this year's grantees include an organization based in Maui to help support the Maui community following the fires in Lahaina.

2024 WSL PURE Grantee Recipients

Malama Hamakua Maui, Hawaiʻi: Malama Hamakua Maui is committed to conserving and restoring Hamakualoa's natural and historic resources forever. This involves agricultural, educational, cultural, and recreational activities, and fostering community partnerships. Their mission is to provide a dedicated space for the community to unite in preserving the beauty of Maui's north shore, safeguarding its natural state and historical significance for ongoing community use. The WSL PURE grant will support monthly community workdays that aim to restore native plants in the area as well as to enhance and restore the cleanliness of stream beds and gulches that lead to the Pe'ahi surf break and the surrounding areas of Hamakualoa, on Maui's North Shore.

Nature Conservation Margaret River Region, Australia: Nature Conservation Margaret River Region is a non-profit, community-based organization committed to engaging the community in the protection of the Margaret River Region's environment. The grant funding will establish a new program working on building a culture of coastal stewardship with local youth, aged 15- 18. The project will engage a diverse range of local leaders, mentors, and cultural custodians to teach coastal conservation, cultural awareness, ocean stewardship, and water safety around Margaret River. Participants will be supported and mentored to develop and implement local projects that contribute to the community and their coastline and help give youth a voice.

Oriente Salvaje & Paso Pacifico, El Salvador: Oriente Salvaje and Paso Pacifico continue to join forces to protect El Salvador's well-known surf breaks through new marine protected areas and the removal of plastic pollution. The WSL has supported these efforts over the past two years to install river-intercept devices in multiple rivers to prevent over one ton of plastic from ending up in the ocean. The continued grant funding from WSL PURE will help these groups stop plastics from entering the ocean through river barriers and community-led beach cleanups, while also upcycling a portion of the plastics. The organizations will also work with landowners and government agencies toward protecting surf breaks and ocean ecosystems through new or enhanced protected areas, both marine and terrestrial. Together they will continue to leverage the sport of surfing to promote sustainable tourism and achieve long-term ecosystem conservation.

Instituto APRENDER Ecologia, Brazil: Instituto APRENDER Ecologia, Brazil, a pioneer in working with surfing and protected areas, celebrates its continued partnership with the WSL PURE grant program, now entering its second year of impactful collaboration. This year, incremental funding from the WSL PURE grant will amplify our joint efforts with local partners like Conservation International-Brazil, to collect over 250 kgs of debris and mobilize more than 100 community members with innovative solutions such as the deployment of an eco-barrier to intercept river pollution before it reaches the ocean. Through strategic actions and the Brazilian Surf Reserves Program, they aim to safeguard surfing sanctuaries and their surrounding ecosystems, ensuring they remain vibrant and resilient for generations to come.

Coral Gardeners, Tahiti: Since 2019, the WSL has proudly partnered with Coral Gardeners and supported their efforts to plant 100,000 corals by the end of 2023. This year, the WSL PURE grant will continue to directly fund Coral Gardeners' vital work in Mo'orea and Teahupo'o, which is also powering community-driven initiatives that elevate local awareness and engagement. Through hands-on workshops, including the remarkable expansion of the coral nursery garden in Teahupo'o initiated during the SHISEIDO Tahiti Pro, this program is embedding the importance of coral ecosystems directly into the hearts of communities and surfers alike, involving 94 local kids. This initiative has demonstrated exceptional success, with 590 corals growing in the Teahupo'o's garden showing a survival rate of over 95% and contributing significantly to reef vibrancy and resilience.

Mamanuca Environment Society, Fiji: Mamanuca Environment Society, Fiji is a non-profit organization that was established in 2003 by tourist operators based in the Mamanuca Region. The primary objective of the organization is to promote Sustainable Community Livelihood & Tourism through environmental protection. This year, the WSL PURE grant will assist MES in advancing its vital work by enhancing waste management practices, advancing coral rehabilitation, and fostering greater community and tourist engagement through educational programs that aim to ensure the Mamanuca region remains a vibrant ecosystem for generations to come.

Surfrider Foundation, Orange County Chapter, California: Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's ocean, waves, and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network. With WSL PURE's support in 2024, Surfrider's North Orange County Chapter will prevent 10,000 pounds of trash and plastic from reaching the ocean by educating and engaging volunteers. Funds will also support the design of a trash interception device for the Santa Ana River channel as an upstream solution to ocean-bound trash.

Sea + Soil Collective, California: The Sea and Soil Collective is a non-profit surf and garden movement based in Encinitas, California reconnecting and regenerating ecosystems and communities. The WSL PURE grant will help support the organization's mission of grassroots reparations for people and the planet through the facilitation of four large-scale, community-led ecosystem restoration projects in North County, San Diego. The partnership will help Sea and Soil reach their goal of planting 3,500 Native plants by 2025 to build climate-resilient soils, keep toxic runoff from entering our oceans, and nurture a culture of Earth stewardship within the larger surf community.

Reflecting on the profound connection between land restoration and community healing, Paige Alms, two-time Big Wave World Champion and dedicated volunteer, underscored the impactful work of Malama Hamakua.

"Malama Hamakua is doing an incredible job bringing life back into land that had been previously mistreated and undervalued," said Alms. "They have begun the process of replanting native species and prolific fruit trees. I'm very grateful WSL PURE has chosen to support this non-profit as it truly is the foundation of the coastline above Pe'ahi."

Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, highlights the significant stride towards reducing plastic pollution with the support of WSL One Ocean.

"The Surfrider Foundation is thrilled to receive WSL One Ocean support this year, to reduce the flow of plastic waste to Orange County beaches," said Nelsen. Echoing the sentiment of environmental dedication, he added that "this project represents an important step in Surfrider's efforts to stop plastics pollution from entering our ocean, while we seek local, federal, and global policy advancements, like the UN Plastics Treaty, to ultimately end plastic pollution once and for all by stopping it at its source."

Nelsen's insights highlight the critical role of collective efforts in tackling ocean pollution, emphasizing the power of partnerships in driving meaningful change.

In an inspiring note on the power of community and traditional knowledge, Lex Weinstein, Founder of Sea + Soil Collective, said, "Sea + Soil Collective is thrilled to be selected as a grant recipient from WSL PURE," said Weinstein. "Since surfing is an Indigenous practice, it is an incredible opportunity for all of us to honor the first surfers of Southern California by encouraging the use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and planting of Native species as a way to protect our oceans and communities. This effort towards grassroots reparations shows the power of the surfing community to give back to the land for every wave we take, and initiate tangible steps towards the healing of people and planet."

Sea + Soil Collective's vision for integrating traditional knowledge with conservation efforts illustrates the innovative and inclusive approaches our grantees are taking to protect our oceans and communities.

Highlighting the importance of engaging the youth in conservation efforts, Drew McKenzie, General Manager at Nature Conservation Margaret River Region, expressed excitement over the launch of a new youth-focused program.

"Nature Conservation is excited to launch our Youth Marine Stewardship program with the support of WSL PURE and WSL One Ocean," said McKenzie. "This is an important step toward our goal of supporting a culture of stewardship within our community. Importantly, this program provides our youth with amazing opportunities to deepen their connection and understanding of our coastal environment and work with local conservation leaders and cultural custodians. It provides our youth with a voice and an opportunity to contribute to the protection and restoration of our coast."

Each year's grants aim to build upon the successes already achieved by WSL One Ocean in previous years. Tangible results last year include significant land protection and restoration efforts, coral planting collaborations, plastic removal through global river cleanup projects, and extensive educational programs for youth on cultural and environmental stewardship. In addition, WSL One Ocean received six awards in sports sustainability, including the prestigious Leaders In Sport Sustainability Category Award and the Green Sports Alliance Play to Zero Award.

"We're excited to announce the 2024 WSL PURE grant recipients," said Emily Hofer, WSL People and Purpose Officer, and WSL PURE Executive Director. "It is our mission to leverage our platform to share stories around their remarkable work in each community across the globe. Our grantees create impressive and significant impact, and we look forward to another year of positive change for our one shared ocean."

For more information, please check out the WSL's Annual Purpose & Impact report.

The WSL PURE grant program is supported by WSL's Global Sustainability Partners SHISEIDO and YETI, as well as regional partner MANANALU.

To learn more about the WSL PURE Grantees and WSL One Ocean activations, please visit WSLOneOcean.org.

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