Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle issued an executive order June 2 establishing surfing reserves at two of the world's most famous surf destinations.
The Duke Kahanamoku Surfing Reserve will encompass the breaks off Waikiki between the Ala Wai and the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial, and the North Shore Surfing Reserve will stretch from Alii Beach in Haleiwa to Sunset Beach on Oahu's northern coast, home to numerous breaks considered by many to be the birthplace of big-wave surfing.
"Hawaii has some of the most famous and beautiful surf sites in the world, and its native sons, such as Sen. Fred Hemmings, have deservedly gained international recognition in the sport of surfing," Lingle said in a statement. "I am pleased we can formally acknowledge the cultural, sports and historic significance of surfing in Hawaii."
Designating the surf reserves was an initiative first introduced to the state legislature by Hemmings, a former surfing world champion, and patterned after a National Surfing Reserves program in Australia. Spread across the country, the Australian reserves recognize more than 10 surfing destinations because of their environmental, cultural and sporting value to the nation.
"Hawaii is the genesis of surfing," Hemmings said. "We must regain the cultural and sports leadership of the world of surfing, and surfing reserves is a step in that direction."
Later in the week, Lingle also announced that the state's Land Use Commission voted unanimously to reclassify a 215-acre stretch of southeastern Oahu shoreline from urban to conservation.
"The reclassification should make future development of this portion of the Ka Iwi Coast a remote possibility in keeping with the wishes of the East Honolulu and greater Oahu community," Lingle said.
Residents living near the region have spent the better part of 20 years fighting to protect the coastline from development.