A recent study revealed that by 2050, there will be more plastic – by weight – than fish in the ocean. This deeply disconcerting fact is evidenced for surfers on a daily basis, when having to wade through the remnants of human consumption while catching waves, and it’s the drive behind this year’s Ballito Pro, presented by Billabong, Save the Waves campaign.

“For humans, single-use plastic has become an everyday convenience and, often, not much thought goes into where it ends up,” explained event co-ordinator, Collette Bundy. “This ‘throwaway’ mentality has led to devastating results for our oceans and marine life, and it’s time we turn the tide on this destructive behaviour.”

In merely a few decades, the amount of plastic collected on earth has reached astronomical proportions with one garbage truck of plastic dumped into the ocean every minute. It will currently take an entire millennium for the earth to rid itself of all the plastic, yet the amount keeps growing.

One plastic form in particular, microplastic, is particularly harmful to sea life. This disintegrated plastic is mistaken by marine animals for food and ingested, damaging the internal organs of fish.

And they aren’t the only ones to suffer as it’s estimated that nearly every sea bird on earth has ingested plastic in their lifetime. Further to this, about 100 000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year after mistaking plastic for food, or becoming fatally entangled in the substance.

Bundy said that, for centuries, people have shared a deep connection with the ocean, understanding that it is the lifeblood of the ‘blue planet’, but somehow this connection has deteriorated over time.

“The ocean connects us globally, through many ways, such as surfing,” she explained. “To encourage this connection, we need to take drastic steps to make amends for past pollution, ensuring the oceans remain a safe haven for all marine life.”

Through the Save the Waves campaign – sponsored by Dolphin Coast Waste Management – organisers hope to educate and create awareness about the hazards of plastic, prompting better disposal and recycling of products. To visually portray this reality, Joe Wire Crafts created a large wire dolphin, three metres in length, which will be displayed at Willard Beach. Visitors are encouraged to dispose of plastic in the dolphin’s mouth, thereby indicating the amount of plastic that would, otherwise, have ended up in the ocean.

In addition to this, recycling stations have been erected at various locations throughout the Ballito Pro, ensuring no litter is discarded onto the seashore.

The Ballito Pro, presented by Billabong, will be taking place at KwaDukuza’s Willard Beach from 22 June to 3 July. Visitors to the longest continually running professional surfing event will have a host of outside festival-related activities to keep them entertained including beach and extreme sports, a culinary evening, retail and food stalls as well as the Five Star Ballito Pro Free Music Concerts Powered by 5FM from 30 June to 2 July.