Pratical Boat Owner: Hundreds sign up to ditch single use items and highlight issue of plastic in our seas.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the UK’s leading marine charity, is challenging people to ditch pre-packed sandwiches, ready meals and plastic bottled drinks for the whole of June.
Almost 600 members of the public have already signed up to take part in the MCS Plastic Challenge, which aims to highlight how reliant we have become on plastic – as reflected in the amount already known to be turning parts of our oceans into a ‘plastic soup’.
The Plastic Challenge began when MCS staff and volunteers were asked to try and give up single use plastic goods for Lent 2013 after volunteer Emily Smith from Lambeth challenged herself to pack up plastic for 40 days and 40 nights.
The charity will offer help to 2015 Plastic Challengers via its website and social media feed which also has a tip swap area and the opportunity to get help when the going gets tough!
Since the charity began monitoring beach litter levels around the UK more than 20 years ago, the amount of plastic bits and pieces has increased by 180%, causing an increasing threat to marine life.
Plastic bags, bottles and tiny plastic pieces are regularly found in the stomachs of turtles and other sea creatures, and in some cases have caused their death from starvation or choking.
MCS senior pollution policy officer, Dr Sue Kinsey said: ‘We want to change people’s attitudes towards single use plastics, and to encourage people to value plastic as a resource – not just buying stuff without any thought of the environmental impact.
‘People taking on the Plastic Challenge are often shocked to find out just how much single use plastic is used every day. Have a go at the Plastic Challenge, even if you can only manage a single day, and you’ll never look at your shopping in the same way again!’
MCS says that because plastic plays such a large part in all of our lives, from brushing our teeth and showering, to cooking and buying plastic-packed products, even simply buying lunch is a minefield – boiled eggs in individual plastic containers, apple slices in plastic bags, pasties on a polystyrene tray wrapped in plastic, plus prepacked sandwiches and bottled drinks.
Dr Kinsey added: ‘Our clamour for convenience is a sin for our seas.
‘It’s durable and lightweight, but it’s these properties that allow it to remain in the marine environment for hundreds if not thousands of years. Plastics are among the most persistent synthetic materials in existence and are now a significant and extensive marine pollutant.’
You can take part in the Plastic Challenge at www.mcsuk.org/plasticchallenge
Yachting & Boating World: The Wildlife Trust is calling for dolphins, whales, porpoises and basking sharks to be protected within 17 hotspots. Greater protection is needed for whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks off the coast of the UK, says a new report.
The Wildlife Trust has identified 17 important ‘megafauna hotspots’ around Britain’s shores that should be protected by law in order to preserve these populations for future generations.
While current Marine Protected Areas (MPA) introduced by the government go some way to protecting species, the report believes that dedicated protection is still needed for whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks from fishing, marine development, pollution and boat traffic.
The report said: “The UK government is working towards achieving an ‘ecologically coherent network of MPAs’, however, there’s a glaring omission in this process: the absence of protection for the nutrient-rich and highly productive places on which marine megafauna most depend.”
The charity is asking for 17 key areas around the UK to be protected, meaning they’d be free from marine development, fishing and heavy boat use. At present, there is just one area like this in existence in Cardigan Bay, aimed at protecting bottlenose dolphins.
The Wildlife Trust’s Joan Edwards, said: “There’s an urgent need to create protected areas at sea for out ocean giants and ensure a network of sites to safeguard these species for generations to come.
“The UK has made huge advances in marine conservation in recent years but there is still a significant job to do. Our marine megafauna – whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks – are still under thread. Many are suffering from the impacts of fishing, whether direct or indirect, increased boat traffic, marine developments and the more persistent effects of pollution.”
“Not all of these impact can be mitigated by spatial protection measures alone but, by designating areas of the sea which are known hotspots, we can provide safe havens for these species and some impacts can be limited or removed altogether.”
The Wildlife Trust would like to see the following areas protected:
1. Farnes East, Coquet to St Marys – notable for white-beaked dolphin, harbour porpoise and minke whale
2. Mid St George’s Channel – notable for common dolphin
3. Bideford North to Foreland Point – notable for harbour porpoise
4. East of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale
5. Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale
6. South of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale
7. Western Channel – notable for common dolphin, humpback whale and fin whale
8. Manacles – notable for basking shark, harbour porpoise and (seasonally) minke whale
9. Lizard, Western channel – notable for common dolphin, harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin and basking shark
10. Lyme Bay – notable for harbour porpoise
11. North and west coasts of Anglesey – notable for harbour porpoise
12. Lleyn Peninsula and the Sarnau – notable for harbour porpoise and Risso’s dolphin
13. Cardigan Bay – notable for harbour porpoise
14. Pembrokeshire Marine – notable for harbour porpoise
15. North of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin
16. Eastern coastline including Silver Pit – notable for harbour porpoise
17. Dogger bank – notable for harbour porpoise and white-beaked dolphin