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The Ocean is Free to Use— Isn't It?

Should surfers have to pay beach fees?

For as long as I can remember, back as a little kid until now, people anywhere in the state of NJ have to pay to use the beach from June until September.

The fee isn't even a drop in the bucket, but it still raises alarms with most people. While I and most others understand the reasoning for the fee to use the beach contributes to the cleaning, raking, upkeep and over all cleanliness of our beaches, these fees do nothing to actually contribute to the condition of our oceans, which, is the reason that surfers are up in arms every-time Memorial Day weekend hits.

Many surfers will argue themselves right into a ticket by refusing to pay the fee and continuing into the ocean. The ticket varies depending on what township you're in but can range from $150 to $300. That's how much you would spend on several of seasonal badges. I too though am guilty of this.

As surfers, we each pick up trash when we see it and especially if it is floating in the water. Most of the patrons that pay to use the beach actually let that fee go to cleaning. Due to their  actions of  nonchalantly leaving the beach littered in their trash.

If you're going to leave the sand clamoured with refuse, than yes, you should have to pay a fee. I often think that the fee beach goers do pay is sometimes too little compared to the damage they do to our beaches.

I speak for myself and various other surfers when I say that all we do is walk across the beach to get to the water. We spend a few hours in the water and then walk back across the beach to leave.

To the authorities, this walk is worth the same amount as someone who is sitting on the beach all day and leaves behind their pizza and hamburger wrappers?

I beg for a reasonable intelligent answer to that question. If the answer results in, "You pay for the lifeguards to keep you safe", they should stop mid sentence.

Surfers year in and year out save people that many times, the lifeguards can't get to. Especially on days when the surf heights are of any real consequence. If anything, we pay for most lifeguards to give us attitudes.

This has been and will be a very heated debate for years to come. Not only for us whom only access the beach strictly for the ocean but also for beach going locals. Most people whom have to pay to play, pay taxes in the same area and are then charged the same amount as tourists who comes with absolutely no respect for our coast.

I feel there should at least be some kind of discounted badges for locals and for surfers that only access the ocean. Or, if everyone is going to spend the same amount of money, the authorities should actually write the tickets for littering like all of the signs across the towns say. I have seen tickets, many tickets written to surfers who defy the beach badgers but NOT once have I ever seen a ticket written to a person leaving their families trash behind.

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