If you’ve been to any of the UK’s beautiful beaches this year it’s hard to miss the devastation the storms have left behind. The powerful Atlantic depressions that lit up our rarely surfed sheltered spots also dumped wave after wave of plastic litter onto our beaches at an unprecedented scale. Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) have described it as a marine litter crisis. However, these destructive storms have also proven to be a powerful motivator for coastal communities.
It’s been encouraging to witness how these communities have embraced SAS’s Big Spring Beach Clean as a positive opportunity to help protect the beaches they love. Taking place between 28th-31st March, this year’s Big Spring Beach Clean is bigger than ever with 135 registered beach clean events all around the UK. From the Channel Islands to the Outer Hebrides and everywhere in between. And the message here is simple, please find your local beach clean event and join like-minded people to help improve your beach. Many hands really will make light work of the expansive marine litter tideline and this is a great opportunity to be part of a concerted effort to improve our beaches and protect our marine environment. Nobody is too young or too old to help out and unfortunately every beach has more than enough litter to satisfy even the most efficient beach cleaning activities.
It couldn't be easier to be a part of the Big Spring Beach Clean:
Step 1: Go to sas.org.uk and search for all the beach clean events in your region.
Step 2: Choose the event, or events that you want to support and turn up ready to help.
Everyone is welcome at these fantastic events. SAS have provided Lead Volunteers with beach clean equipment plus full health and safety, public liability and event organisation support. Meaning that you can be sure of a safe, informative and, most importantly, fun event!
There are similar beach clean initiatives going on around the world and here’s a list of some that could do with your help:
USA: Surfrider’s 84 chapters roll out ongoing anti marine litter initiatives as part of the Rise Against Plastics program.
Mexico: WildCoast/COSTALSALVAJE will be coordinating a marine litter cleanup in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, and Oaxaca in Mexico after Easter Week Festivities.
Europe: Surfrider Europe have a program similar to the Big Spring Beach Clean called Oceans Initiative, with cleans in many European states taking place across several coastlines between 20th -23rd March.
Costa Rica: Clean Streets, Clean Waters program, helping local communities protect their coast from marine litter.
Peru: HAZLA POR TU PLAYA (Do it for your beach). Remember it’s still summer in the southern hemisphere and the proud Peruvian surfing community have an active beach clean program.
Even with all these amazing international initiatives, it’s frighteningly obvious that beach cleaning alone will never solve the problem. SAS are challenging industry and Governments to ensure that tangible actions are taken within these sectors to reduce our impact on the oceans. SAS’ recent campaign success persuading the UK Government to introduce a bag charge is an example of sustainable achievable solutions, and we desperately need many more solutions just like it.
SAS also has a campaign to correctly identify UFOs, Unidentified Floating Objects. If you find a strange item of marine litter that’s consistently turning up on your beach SAS want to know about it. If SAS can identify what the item of litter is they will approach the industry and look to improve the processes that are failing the environment. If the industry isn’t willing to work with SAS, then SAS approach regulators for a prosecution. Send your potential UFOs to email@example.com
SAS UFO case study 1: The blue foam balls featured in the gallery above were found at an SAS beach clean event in Saltburn. The curious SAS team investigated and with the help of the local SAS rep and the Saltburn water sports community, SAS traced the blue balls back to the Hartlepool nuclear power station. SAS are now dealing with the Environment Agency’s nuclear licencing team on ways to illuminate these items of marine litter from our beaches.
SAS UFO case study 2: The blue and white stoppers also featured in the gallery above are being found on Porthtowan, Perranporth and Newquay beaches in Cornwall. They are blue and white stoppers that could be a male and female stopper for some sort of gas/air conditioning units. Do you use these stoppers at work, do you know what they are used for? If you have any ideas please email firstname.lastname@example.org and SAS can follow up your lead.
Finally this year SAS is producing a report detailing the ambitious strategies needed to reduce marine litter by 50% by 2020. Within their report SAS will be highlighting the best solutions that are working around the globe and detailing new solutions that can help achieve this ambitious target. The report will be given to Government with the weight of the water sports community behind it. Our beaches are drowning in litter and the time for action is now.
Hugo Tagholm, SAS Chief Executive says: “The marine litter crisis poses an unprecedented threat to the sustainability of our marine environments a threat that the world is only just waking up to. This March when over 130 coastal communities unite, during our Big Spring Beach Clean, to confront the marine litter crisis we hope to turn that awakening into action.”