What is Surfing Economics?

Surfing is essentially free– jumping in the water, paddling and catching a wave. We do not pay to catch waves. Waves have no price. But having no price does not mean waves have no value. Quite the opposite. Surfing is a lifestyle sport that contributes to the physical, mental and social wellbeing of millions of surfers across the world. Further, avid surfers spend thousands of dollars in equipment and travel, feeding billions of dollars into local and global economies.

So, we know surfing is valuable. But do we know how much? What is the value of surfing? What is the value of a wave? These are the questions ‘surfing economics’ is trying to answer.

‘Surfing economics’ is based on the long-standing discipline of ‘environmental economics’ and, in particular, on a set of methods known as ‘non-market-valuation’. In essence, these methods try to quantify the ‘worth’ or ‘value’ of things that cannot be bought or sold – for there is no market. Saving endangered species or improving air quality are common examples. These are ‘things’ (goods or services) that the environment provides us with and which we value, but we cannot buy. The same applies to surfing waves. Unlike other outdoor recreational activities, such as fishing, the value of surfing is only starting to be recognised among academics, policy-makers and coastal planners.

Meet Dr Ana Manero

Dr Ana Manero

Dr Ana Manero


Hi, I am Dr Ana Manero . I am an environmental economist working as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Australian National University. I have over 15 years of experience in environmental management, focused on water resources. Over the years working in industry and academia, I have learnt to bring together sound analytical and research capabilities, with a strong passion for sustainability and preservation of natural resources. I am also an avid surfer. With a unique combination of academic skills and an intimate understanding of surfing, I am now  championing ‘surfing economics’ research in Australia.

I am a mum of two, and a dedicated member of the Surfing Mums community.

I grew up in the center of Barcelona – a fascinating , yet very busy city. At the age of 22, I moved to study in Paris and later spent a year working in Rome.  Growing up, I never had the luxury of enjoying the wilderness on my doorstep. Moving to Australia in 2009, I discovered the immense value that the ocean brings to people’s daily lives. Through ‘surfing economics’, it is possible to better understand such values and help preserve them now, and into the future.


Surfing Economics

What is the value of a wave?