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Decade-long study of beach litter finds sharp rise in types of litter such as polystyrene foam, balloons and fishing nets

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Near-doubling of smaller plastic pieces likely to continue as items enter the sea and break down

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory have studied the findings from beach litter surveys carried out over a ten year period by volunteers for the Marine Conservation Society’s Beachwatch programme. They found that some types of litter increased significantly over the period, and recommend that urgent action should be taken to tackle them.

Data for 2.4 million items of litter collected through over 73,000 volunteer hours during the period 2005-14 were studied. To define statistically significant trends in litter levels, the researchers took into account variations in numbers of people taking part in surveys, the amount of time spent carrying out each survey, and differences in the lengths of beaches covered by volunteers.

They found that while overall quantities of litter recorded by volunteers showed no statistically significant change over the decade, several types of litter had increased. These include small plastic fragments, plastic food packaging, wet wipes, polystyrene foam, balloons and large fishing nets.

There were clear variations in litter levels between regions. The beaches of South West of England and South Wales were observed to have the highest abundance of litter items, whilst beaches to the North and West of Scotland had the lowest. The South West of England and South Wales exhibited the highest levels fishing litter and food and drinks packaging, while Eastern England showed the highest numbers of wet wipes.

The majority of material was identified as being of land-based origin, mainly from public littering.

Sarah Nelms, a PhD researcher from Plymouth Marine Laboratory and University of Exeter, said: “Our finding that the majority of beach litter originates from the public is very concerning and indicates a need for better education on the consequences of dropping rubbish. Clean seas and beaches are hugely important for the environment and the economy as well as our own health and well-being.”

Laura Foster, Head of Pollution at the Marine Conservation Society said: “This independent study has clearly identified a rise in several litter items, such as food and drink waste and wet wipes found on British beaches. MCS is seeking to address these sources of litter by running targeted campaigns to establish bottle deposit schemes, and to raise awareness with the public and retailers that ‘Wet Wipes Turn Nasty’. Governments, through developing litter strategies, can be better informed by studies such as these to put effective measures together to reduce litter.”

The researchers concluded that organised citizen-science programmes such as Beachwatch, which define a sampling methodology and record effort, provide a valid and effective means of monitoring marine litter. They also provide a highly cost-effective method of collecting data on a large scaleand engaging citizens in an issue that affects us all.

The research is published in Science of the Total Environment here.

To find out more about the Marine Conservation Society visit www.mcsuk.org.

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Get moving with the new RAID DPV training programs

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The thrill of speeding through the water behind a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) is an experience that really gets the blood racing. Using a DPV provides divers both immense fun and the means to achieve goals that would be impossible without their use.

RAID is proud to announce the new two-tier DPV training program with certifications for DPV and Advanced DPV.

Why DPV and why now?
Recreational and technical divers are using DPVs to access sites that would be difficult to reach and explore using traditional propulsion methods; to help propel large amounts of heavy equipment; to increase the safety of dives in areas of strong current; or just for the pure exhilaration of shooting through the water at speed and performing underwater acrobatics.

By extending your capabilities and extending your range, using a DPV opens new vistas for exploration and fun.

DPV
This certification option is aimed at the recreational diver who wishes to learn how to use a DPV to enhance their diving by using mainly natural navigation.

Advanced DPV
This certification option is available to anyone who is familiar with longhose configuration, has logged a minimum of 20 dives and is certified as Navigation specialty divers.

This certification option is aimed at the slightly more experienced diver with preexisting navigational training and diving on a single, twin or sidemount setup with a longhose. Although this level is slightly more challenging, the more advanced navigation exercises provide an important base for more complex types of DPV diving within a team.

PREREQUISITES
You must:

  • Be a minimum of 12 years old.
  • Be certified as RAID Open Water 20, Junior Open Water or equivalent.

Just visit www.diveRAID.com to put some extra dash into your dives.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Beers raise cash for ocean clean-up

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The Driftwood Spars Brewery, a pioneering microbrewery based on the North Cornwall coast, is donating a percentage of all profits from its Cove range of beers to Fathoms Free, a certified charity which actively cleans the ocean around the Cornish peninsula.

Each purchase of the small-batch, craft beers – there are four different canned beers in the Cove range – will help generate funds to purchase a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and fund retrieval dives; every brew will raise the equivalent cost of a fully-funded dive. 

Fathoms Free is a Cornwall-based charity whose day-to-day mission involves dives from their fast-response specialist vessel to recover ghost fishing gear; abandoned nets, pots, angling equipment and other plastic causes severe damage to the marine environment and the death of countless seabirds, seals, dolphins and other sea life.

The campaign to raise funds for an ROV is a new initiative which will take the clean-up work to a new level; the highly manoeuvrable underwater vehicle will be used to scour the seabed, harbours and remote parts of the coastline for abandoned fishing gear and other marine litter.

Project Manager Natallia Paliakova from Fathoms Free said: “Apart from helping us locate ghost gear underwater, the ROV will also be capable of recording underwater video which is always great for raising awareness about marine pollution issues.”

She added: “We are really excited to be partnering with The Driftwood Spars Brewery and appreciate the proactive support of Mike and his team in bringing the purchase of an ROV a step closer to reality.”

Head Brewer Mike Mason personally approached the charity after their work was featured on the BBC 2 documentary, ‘Cornwall with Simon Reeve’.    

He said: “As a keen surfer I am only too aware of the problem of marine litter and had heard about Fathoms Free, but seeing them in action prompted me to find a way of contributing. The scale of the challenge is scary, but the determination of organisations like Fathoms Free is inspiring.”

Photo by Beagle Media Ltd

Photo by Beagle Media Ltd

The Driftwood Spars Brewery was founded in 2000 in Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes; the microbrewery is just a few steps away from it’s co-joined brewpub, The Driftwood Spars; both pub and brewery are well-regarded far beyond the Cornish cove they call home. 

You can hear the waves and taste the salt on the air from the door of both brewery and pub, and the rough seas along the rugged North coast often throw up discarded nets and other detritus; Louise Treseder, Landlady of The Driftwood Spars and a keen sea swimmer, often collects washed up ghost gear on her daily beach excursions.     

Louise commented: “This is a great partnership to support a cause close to our hearts – I know the money we raise will have a positive and lasting impact. The Cove range was inspired by our unique surroundings and the artwork – by local artist Jago Silver – reflects that. Now donations from each purchase will contribute towards the vital ocean clean-up taking place right on our doorstep.”

The Cove range can currently be purchased online here, and is available in good independent bottle shops in Cornwall.

To find out more about Fathoms Free visit their website here.

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