Morocco is a prime surf destination when it comes to points and rights. Anchor Point is its most famous wave. But unregulated development in the region is putting the spot under huge environmental strain. Can a World Surfing Reserve bid help protect this world-class wave?
The region of Agadir is undergoing massive changes: what used to be a string of sleepy villages has become a major tourist hub. Agadir airport is one of the country's busiest, from which hundreds of minibuses and surf school vans commute daily. Destination: Taghazout and Tamraght. The two villages are at the center of Morocco's surf paradise, with all key surf spots easily accessible: Boilers, Killer Point, Hash Point, Panorama and the most famous, Anchor Point.
Unfortunately growth hasn't been matched by investment. Or rather, investment is being poured in odd places: thousands of shiny new holiday homes are close to completion, before a sewage system has been put in place. Concerns about trendy designs have trumped those of water access at a time when droughts happen at an unprecedented scale and villages already struggle to meet existing demand. Drinking water is even less of a concern with less than 10% of the local population having any access.
And while local businesses and authorities are seeing surfing as a cash cow, they seem to know very little about what surfers really really want: uncrowded waves, clean water, pristine coastline. Increasingly, it is anything but: there are more surf schools than waves, the water is polluted by untreated sewage going directly into the ocean and litter is left on the beaches at industrial scale. Not shrewd business planning if you ask anybody with a vision that spans beyond the next 6 months.
Surfrider Maroc has started engaging all local actors on the issue (surf schools, tourist accommodation providers, local authorities) through a common project: get Anchor Point listed as one of the 10 'World Surfing Reserves' in the world. This status, delivered by Save the Waves, is an engagement framework that encourages and supports local initiative seeking to protect the characteristics and the sustainable growth of a surf spot and its surrounding area. The program spans 4 continents, with reserves including Malibu (California), Noosa (Australia), Punta de Lobos (Chile) and Ericeira (Portugal).
Having witnessed first hand the dramatic changes that the World Surfing Reserve status of Ericeira has brought to Portugal, it would be really daft of Morocco and the region of Taghazout not to follow suit and put their money where their ambitions are. Which also applies to local businesses (which tend not to be 'local' per se, being run with/by foreign investment), who are too quick to dismiss their own responsibility in the environment impact they create.
Surfrider Maroc has started the process, but now needs support from local and international surfers on two fronts:
- proving that Anchor Point is a world-class wave worth saving
- putting pressure on local businesses and authorities to start committing to sustainable growth, including waste and water management.
Contact Surfrider Maroc on their Facebook page and comment on why and how you would like Anchor Point to be preserved.
Because we all want Morocco to remain our North African surf El Dorado, the land of adventures, stunning nature and pristine barrels.
Chief Storyteller at Swellbound