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Body-surfing and Hand-boarding Environmental Topics and Concerns 

Body-surfing sites around the globe are under pressure from development, pollution, and access issues, among other challenges.

Although the implementation of board-surfing site conservation strategies has become more widespread in recent years, body-surfing sites are not well represented.

This page explores body-surfing sites in an environmental context.

Please share your experience or story with us.

Is your bodysurf site threatened by development, pollution, or restricted access? Please share your story with us.

Hawaiian Handfins Environmental Researcher – Dr Steven A Martin

Surf Site Conservation

Surf sites around the world are under ever-increasing pressures from tourism, coastal development, pollution and other anthropogenic factors. Dr. Steven Martin's research has been foundational in introducing the idea of surfing areas as natural resources with measurable conservation aptitude.

Steven's work includes the development of the Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI). SRSI is a metric-orientated planning and development methodology – a theoretical compass which points toward sustainability, representing the summation of assessable qualities or attributes a site possesses which can make a positive contribution to sustainability.

Steven conducting environmental research for the Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI) [click on photo to visit Dr Steven's ’Ohana page]

"In comparison with board-surfing and other ocean sports, there is very little in the academic literature about body-surfing. Body-surfing sites are not well-represented in the coastal resource management literature, leaving them relatively unacknowledged and less-protected against coastal development, pollution, and restricted access. There is a need for more research in this area, exploring social, economic, environmental, and management perspectives. There are many opportunities for graduate and PhD students to conduct research focused on body-surfing sites worldwide."

Steven A. Martin, Ph.D., Environmental Management

International Publications

Martin, S. A., & O'Brien, D. (2017). Part 2: A systems approach – Chapter 2. Surf resource system boundaries. In G. Borne and J. Ponting (Eds.), Sustainable surfing. Routledge: London.

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2015). Measuring the conservation aptitude of surf beaches in Phuket, Thailand: An application of the surf resource sustainability index. International Journal of Tourism Research, 17(2) 105–117. doi: 10.1002/jtr.1961

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2014). Investigating the importance of surf resource sustainability indicators: Stakeholder perspectives for surf tourism planning and development. Tourism Planning and Development11(2) 127–148. doi: 10.1080/21568316.2013.864990

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2013). Developing a surf resource sustainability index as a global model for surf beach conservation and tourism research. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 19(7) 760–792. doi: 10.1080/10941665.2013.806942

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2012). The genesis of a new body of sport tourism literature: A systematic review of surf tourism research (1997-2011). Journal of Sport and Tourism, 17(4), 257–287. doi:10.1080/14775085.2013.766528

Dropping in at Point Panic, Kewalo Basin, Oahu, Hawaii [Please click on photo to learn more about the history of Hawaiian Handfins)