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Rip Curl backs Puerto Rican Eco-Legacy projects

International surfing company Rip Curl is proud to announce its financial support of two environmentally-focused legacy projects in Puerto Rico, the venue for the historic Rip Curl Pro Search ASP World Tour competitions in November 2010.

Rip Curl’s Planet Fund will financially support efforts in the Isabela municipality in the north of Puerto Rico, with the focus on:

  • A sand dune restoration/protection at Middles Beach, (where the 2010 Pro Search competitions ran), overseen by the University of Puerto Rico;
  • Expanding a water quality testing/monitoring program at a number of surf spots around Aguadilla by the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

The staging of the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search men’s and women’s ASP World Tour competitions provided the Puerto Rican surf community with an opportunity to highlight their local environmental concerns. Since the event, Rip Curl has worked closely with two key local environmental groups to ensure an eco-legacy.

Explaining the Planet Fund’s support, Rip Curl International Events Manager Brooke Farris said: "Contributing to local communities and the environment is one of Rip Curl’s 5 key company principles."

"In taking the Rip Curl Pro Search to Puerto Rico, we aimed to try to get some understanding of local environmental issues and work out how we could leave a positive legacy. The projects we’re funding fit well with our aims, especially their connection to surfing, and they both look set to leave lasting benefits for the local surf community," Ms Farris added.

Director of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Dune Restoration Program, Mr Robert J Mayer said: "We really appreciate the help that Rip Curl is giving our program. It means a lot to our community and student volunteers because Aguadilla is the surfing capital of Puerto Rico and the UPR Aguadilla campus is the surfing campus of the UPR system.

Speaking about the project, Mr Mayer added: "The Isabela coastal dune system used to have the largest sand dunes of Puerto Rico and probably the Caribbean. Unfortunately this system has been exploited (mainly via commercial sand extraction) for decades leaving almost no dunes at all.

Mr Mayer continued: "The mission of our program is to change the behavior of the community in order to protect what is left of this beautiful and important natural system. Coastal sand dunes act as reservoirs of sand that help shape the beach, serve as a habitat for many species of plants and animals, and serve as a natural barrier that can protect private property from strong storm surges or tsunamis. Our program volunteers are currently educating the community, installing sand-accumulation fencing and planting vegetation to help reduce erosion at the world-class surf spot at Middles Beach."

"Rip Curl’s funding will make possible the installation of exclusion fencing that will keep any vehicles and foot traffic out of sensitive areas. Having these permanent fences will also reduce the impact of future surfing contests, and other events being held in this area, since attendees will be kept at a safe distance from the primary dunes," Mr Mayer concluded.

Local Surfrider Foundation chapter leader/spokesman Mr Wessley B Merten was similarly grateful on getting the news about the Planet Fund’s financial support, saying: "This is amazing!"

He added: "Through consistent weekly testing and monitoring, we have compiled a strong database indicating that unlawful levels of bacteria that cause significant health risks for people and the coastal ecosystem are continually inundating the coastline of north-west Puerto Rico."

"Expanding our testing and monitoring will allow us to develop coastal bacteria profiles to determine the levels of contamination reaching popular surf spots, swimming areas and beaches, with those results then used to notify the public about contaminated areas, contamination events and pressure the island’s water agencies to enforce more stringent regulations and upgrade the island’s water management standards," Mr Merten said.
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