We have had several reports of surfers being threatened with arrest or fines and being harassed by public officials in Alabama during the Debby swell. If you have firsthand experience with this event or a similar experience in Florida, contact us so we can get the facts straight and try to help you. In the mean time, you may want to obey the direct orders of any police officer. Even if they are mistaken about the legality of surfing, an officer still may have the authority to give orders governing public safety and you could be cited for non-compliance. The long term solution will be through education and establishing or revising ordinances to clearly allow the healthy sport of surfing.
The situation seems eerily similar the the event that led to the founding of our Emerald Coast chapter, when surfing was nearly outlawed in Walton County, FL. Many of us suddenly realized that somebody needs to do something… then we realized that the “somebody” was us! It took gathering facts, holding a few meetings and presenting our case to the county commission. a compromise was struck and the ordinance was struck down from consideration.
Anyone in AL that would like to work on these efforts can email us at EmeraldCoast@surfrider.org
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