Serge Dedina

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Serge Dedina
Occupation Activist, Environmentalist, Author

Serge Dedina is the author of Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the California (Tucson: University of Arizona Press) and Saving the Gray Whale (Tucson: University of Arizona Press) and a conservationist from Imperial Beach, California. He is currently the Mayor of Imperial Beach, California, since the November 2014 election. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of WiLDCOAST[1]/COSTASALVAjE, an international organization that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. He is the former founding director of The Nature Conservancy’s Baja California and Sea of Cortez Program. Dedina was instrumental in the development of two national parks along Baja’s Sea of Cortez coastline and a research and educational center in Magdalena Bay. He also initiated an international campaign that successfully stopped the Mitsubishi Corporation from destroying San Ignacio Lagoon—the world’s last undeveloped gray whale lagoon. Saving the Gray Whale, is based on the three years he lived in the gray whale lagoons of Baja California.

Honors and Accomplishments[edit]

Since 1980, Serge Dedina has dedicated most of his time to protecting the coastal wildlands of the Californias. He has successfully worked with fishing communities and grassroots organizations on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border to preserve more than 1 million acres (4,000 km2) of globally significant coastal and marine habitats. The Surf Industry Manufacturer’s Association named Dedina the “Environmentalist of the Year” in 2003 for his work to protect the coastline of Baja California. In 2009 he received the San Diego Zoological Society’s Conservation Medal. The California Coastal Commission and Sunset Magazine awarded Dedina the “Coastal Hero” award in 2009 in recognition of his conservation work. He is also a member of the Sweetwater Union High School District Hall of Fame. Serge was named a John Muir Fellow by Muir College at UCSD in 2013 in recognition of his conservation achievements. In January 2016, he received the Peter Benchley "Hero of the Sea" award.

Dedina helped broker a deal to protect 140,000 acres (570 km2) at Laguna San Ignacio, a UNESCO World Heritage site. He also helped to stop plans by Mexican government agency FONATUR, to build mega-resorts in some of the most isolated coastal regions and national parks in Northwest Mexico. The “Don’t Eat Sea Turtle Campaign” carried out by WiLDCOAST reached more than 300 million people and was called the “best ocean campaign in human history” by Shifting Baselines Director Randy Olson. Dedina is currently leading an effort to preserve Baja’s central Pacific coastline, a project that was featured in the October issue of Surfer Magazine and has resulted in the conservation of close to 20 miles (32 km) of pristine coastline. Dedina launched a “Clean Water Now” campaign along the San Diego-Tijuana portion of the U.S.-Mexico Border in 2004 that led to the construction of a new sewage treatment plan on the U.S. side of the border in the Tijuana River Valley. Dedina is directing a new initiative to preserve endangered shark populations in Mexico and to preserve the Cabo Pulmo Coral Reef in Southern Baja California. In 2009 Dedina worked with a national coalition of environmentalists and fishing groups, Senator Tom Coburn, and the Obama White House to kill plans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to carry out destructive pork-barrel dredge and fill projects nationwide.

The Wall Street Journal, PBS, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, New York Times, CNN, CBS-News, USA-Today, the Washington Post, The Economist, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and the San Diego Union-Tribune have reported on Dedina’s conservation activities.

Dedina has published articles on the environment and surfing in the Los Angeles Times, Grist,, San Diego News Network, Surfline, The Surfer’s Journal, San Diego Union-Tribune, The Surfer’s Path, Journal of Borderlands Studies, and California Coast and Ocean. He writes a weekly column on surfing and the coastal environment,"Southwest Surf" for Imperial Beach and Coronado versions of


Dedina holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Master’s degree in Geography from the University of Wisconsin and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California-San Diego.

Personal life[edit]

A first-generation American, Dedina’s hometown is Imperial Beach, California, located just across the border from Mexico where he lives with his wife Emily and sons Daniel and Israel. It is here that he developed his interest in coastal conservation, while working to develop two national wildlife refuges and attempting to clean up the Tijuana River. Dedina worked a City of Imperial Beach Ocean Lifeguard from 1981–1985 and a State of California Ocean Lifeguard at the Silver Strand State Beach from 1985-1993. He rescued more than 500 people while employed as a lifeguard. An avid surfer, Dedina also enjoys competing in triathlons and rough-water ocean swims. Dedina currently manages WiLDCOAST from an office across the street from the Imperial Beach Pier.


  1. ^ "Stronger border fence could weaken birds". MSNBC. 15 September 2005. Retrieved 28 June 2011.