Peruvian Navy Protects Huanchaco WSR

Peruvian Navy Protects Huanchaco WSR


Photo credit: Vargas/Save The Waves

Huanchaco, Peru, is one of the oldest surfing communities in the world. It hosts a coastline full of perfect waves with swells in the 3-to-10 foot range and the ancient surf craft of the “Caballito de Totoro”. Oh, and it’s also the world’s first World Surfing Reserve which waves are protected by the central government.

A program that’s led and managed by the Save the Waves Coalition – an NGO that is dedicated to protecting surfers’ favourite places – World Surfing Reserves recognises, assigns and preserves outstanding waves, surf zones and surrounding environments around the world. (Find out more here on how a World Surfing Reserve is chosen).

But it hasn’t always been a smooth ride to protect Huanchaco, (it’s pronounced ‘Juan-chaulk-oh’ in case you’re wondering). Back in 2013, when it was designated as a World Surfing Reserve, it was found out that a neighbouring municipality called Buenos Aires was illegally dumping rubbish (something we’re definitely not a fan of here at Surfdome). Due to the currents and prevailing winds, much of the litter ended up in the Huanchaco World Surfing Reserve. It was time for the Huanchaco Local Stewardship Council and the Save the Waves Coalition to put their foot down and take a stand.

Ollanta Humala, the Peruvian president, signed a bill in 2013 entitled the ‘Ley de Rompientes’ (“The law of the Breakers”) to protect coastlines and waves from any disruption. However, coastal communities have to formally apply to the government in order to enjoy the protections afforded through the law. The Huanchaco World Surfing Reserve, supported by Save the Waves Coalition, has now made history as the first community in the world to have won federal protection of their waves.

Yes, through the World Surfing Reserve program and years of effort by the Save the Waves, the Peruvian Navy have officially decreed that the coastline and surfing waves of Huanchaco are now legally and indefinitely protected by federal law. They will oversee and enforce the ‘Ley de Rompientes’, making sure that it permanently protects Huanchaco’s waves, its series of iconic surf spots and 4,000-year-old historic maritime culture. The first act? The Peruvian Navy have prevented a series of jetties that were proposed for the town’s main beach from ever being built.

“Through the World Surfing Reserve program we have been able to secure legal and permanent protection for this historical coastline, ancient artisanal fishing culture and the world’s oldest surf craft’ – Nick Mucha, Save The Waves’ Director of Programs.

In March, representatives from the Huanchaco World Surfing Reserve travelled from Peru to Australia to demonstrate their ancient surf craft for the Gold Coast’s dedication ceremony as it was awarded the title of the 8th World Surfing Reserve. The Gold Coast joined Peru, Malibu, California; Ericeira, Portugal; Manly Beach, Australia; Santa Cruz, California; Bahia de Todos Santos, Baja, California, Mexico and Punta de Lobos, Chile. Both the Gold Coast and Peru belong to a prestigious network of World Surfing Reserves that endeavour to preserve and protect those surf spots that we know and love.

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