On September 5th, 2018, the World Surf League (WSL) made an official announcement that, starting in 2019, they will award equal prize money to male and female categories at every WSL-controlled event.
WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said, “We want to be at the forefront of pushing for equality in all walks of life, starting on the waves, and we feel very lucky to have women on our tour who are highly talented, iconic role models, and more than deserve this recognition as they stand alongside our extraordinary male athletes.”
This announcement comes just two months after the WSL received criticism over a pay disparity, at the Billabong Pro Junior Series, where the female winner received half the prize payout as the male winner. Following the Billabong Pro Junior Series, the WSL released this statement, condoning the pay disparity in the event.
The WSL’s standpoint on the issue is as follows:
The World Surf League (WSL) oversees men’s and women’s professional surfing around the globe across multiple disciplines and development tiers.
In recent years, the organization has instituted pay parity at the Championship Tour level and we are in the process of instituting across other disciplines. As we continue to steward and enhance professional surfing worldwide, our focus will be on elevating the development tiers in this area.
The issue raised with regards to the Billabong Ballito Pro Junior stemmed from a pay parity execution based on original 32-man and 16-woman fields. However, withdrawals from the men’s event left a 24-man field (withdrawals saw only 14 ultimately compete on the women’s side) and a subsequent pay disparity between the two events.
This is an important topic to us. Our sport features amazing women athletes who compete alongside their male counterparts. We are committed to providing a platform for the best surfers in the world, regardless of gender, and recognize that prizing is an important factor in creating that platform.
Despite past events, the WSL is now making serious strides towards a more equal sport. Six-time world champion, Stephanie Gilmore, told the WSL, “This is incredible, and I am thrilled. The prize money is fantastic, but the message means even more.”
Each year, Forbes announces a list of the World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes. In 2018, no women made the list. By setting an example of equal pay in all competitions, the WSL is setting the standard not only for surfing, but for sport in general. This announcement is a huge step towards equality for female athletes in all sports across the globe.
Cover photo: Stephanie Gilmore Roxy Pro 2010 by Mark Hall
That’s the conclusion of the latest five-yearly report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, released on Friday. The report assessed literally hundreds of scientific studies published on the reef’s declining condition since the last report was published in 2014.
Looking to the future, the report said “the current rate of global warming will not allow the maintenance of a healthy reef for future generations […] the window of opportunity to improve the reef’s long-term future is now”.
But that window of opportunity is being squandered so long as Australia’s and the world’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
The evidence on the reef’s condition is unequivocal
A logical national response to the outlook report would be a pledge to curb activity that contributes to global warming and damages the reef. Such action would include a ban on the new extraction of fossil fuels, phasing out coal-fired electricity generation, transitioning to electrified transport, controlling land clearing and reducing local stressors on the reef such as land-based runoff from agriculture.
But federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s response to the outlook report suggested she saw no need to take dramatic action on emissions, when she declared: “it’s the best managed reef in the world”.
But rather than meaningfully tackle Australia’s contribution to climate change, the federal government has focused its efforts on fixing the damage wrought on the reef. For example as part of a A$444 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the government has allocated $100 million for reef restoration and adaptation projects over the next five years or so.
It showed authorities have failed to reach water quality targets set under the Reef 2050 Plan – Australia’s long-term plan for improving the condition of the reef.
For example the plan sets a target that by 2025, 90% of sugarcane land in reef catchments should have adopted improved farming practices. However the report showed the adoption had occurred on just 9.8% of land, earning the sugarcane sector a grade of “E”.
So yes, the reef is definitely in danger
The 2019 outlook report and other submissions from Australia will be assessed next year when the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets to determine if the Great Barrier Reef should be listed as “in danger” – an outcome the federal government will fight hard to avoid.
An in-danger listing would signal to the world that the reef was in peril, and put the federal government under greater pressure to urgently prevent further damage. Such a listing would be embarrassing for Australia, which presents itself as a world’s-best manager of its natural assets.
The outlook report maintains that the attributes of the Great Barrier Reef
that led to its inscription as a world heritage area in 1981 are still intact, despite the loss of close to half of the corals in 2016 and 2017.
But by any rational assessment, the Great Barrier Reef is in danger. Most of the pressures on the reef are ongoing, and some are escalating – notably anthropogenic heating, also known as human-induced climate change.
And current efforts to protect the reef are demonstrably failing. For example despite an ongoing “control” program, outbreaks of the damaging crown-of-thorns starfish – triggered by poor water quality – have spread throughout the reef.
The federal government has recently argued that climate change should not form the basis for an in-danger listing, because rising emissions are not the responsibility of individual countries. The argument comes despite Australia having one of the highest per capita emissions rates in the world.
But as Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise – an outcome supported by government policy – the continued downward trajectory of the Great Barrier Reef is inevitable.
Cover photo: A supplied image obtained Thursday, June 6, 2013 of holiday makers in the Great Barrier Reef, Tropical North Queensland, October 2008. ReefLive, a live 12-hour interactive online show about the reef, will be broadcast on YouTube from 10am (AEST) on Friday to coincide with World Ocean Day on Saturday. (AAP Image/Supplied by Tourism and Events Queensland, Richard Fitzpatrick) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY