TWELVE months after the Gold Coast was endorsed as the eighth World Surfing Reserve, we will play host to the inaugural International Surfing Symposium.
The Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve, of which I am the chairman, will continue to promote ocean conservation when we host the symposium from March 13-17.
The symposium will follow on from the Byron Surf Festival and will coincide with the World Surf League season-opening events at Snapper from March 8-20.
This is the most exciting time of the year at the southern end of the Gold Coast; the waves are pumping and the world's best professional surfers are in town.
The symposium will include a two-day conference featuring an eclectic group of keynote speakers - including academics, coastal engineers, international surfing conservationists, surfing champions and industry reps.
The speakers will address the challenges and future issues we face, whether it be climate change, overcrowding, beach erosion, the use of recycled products for surfing equipment, shark shield technology or future surf sustainability themes that can make a difference.
The Gold Coast's first two professional world champions, Peter Townend (1976) and Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew (1978), are among the keynote speakers who will address the conference.
The original Cooly Kids will reflect on their amazing surfing careers and where it all started.
Rabbit, who is Patron of the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve, said the event would bring together people from all areas of the industry.
"It's a fantastic initiative. The symposium will not only gather the sport, lifestyle and culture of surfing luminaries, but bring to the Gold Coast many of the world's experts in coastal conservation and surf sustainability," he said.
"We face many challenges over the next 20 years and this symposium will have a collective brains trust second to none."
Other notable speakers include Peru's 1965 world champion Felipe Pomar, surf craftsman Dick Van Straalen, Griffith University academic Ralph Buckley and Save the Waves program director Nick Mucha.
The conference, which has the support of state and local government, will be held at the Currumbin RSL from March 13-14. For registrations, visit goldcoastworldsurfing reserve.com.
The symposium will also include a film festival on the Wednesday night.
The event will wrap up on the Friday night with Gold Coast singer/songwriter Felicity Lawless and her band to perform at the Sound Lounge.
Visitors will have the chance to share in more than $5000 worth of prizes, including Virgin Atlantic flights for two to Bali courtesy of Orbit World Travel, a Firewire surfboard, a Patagonia wetsuit and a Shark Shield protection kit.