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Marine Life & Conservation

Liverpool divers bring rubbish to the surface in Underwater Litterpick

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Car number plates, a pair of sunglasses and a watch were just some of the items which divers from Liverpool-based club TS Neptune brought to the surface during an Underwater Litterpick in the city centre.

Members of the city’s TS Neptune Sub Aqua Club, which is linked to the sea cadets, staged the clean up in Liverpool’s Dukes Dock to celebrate the BSAC’s Diamond Jubilee and as part of the Club’s annual Underwater Litterpick campaign. Club members spent more than five hours clearing debris from the dock basin.

Keith Bayley-Hamilton, TS Neptune SAC Secretary and Assistant Diving Officer, said the day proved a big success with more than 100 separate items being cleared from the bottom of the dock.

He said: “Although the club is affiliated to the Sea Cadets it is open to anyone to join. We had two of our cadets join a dozen adult divers for the day and they thoroughly enjoyed the event.

“It is important to get across the importance of clearing up the environment and looking after what is an important underwater habitat for wildlife. The problem is people seem to think because rubbish is out of sight underwater it doesn’t matter.

“However, there is a huge amount of wildlife living in the docks, including crabs, dog fish and even jellyfish and we wanted to improve the environment in which they live.” Liam Williams, 12, a pupil of Alsop High School, Queen’s Drive, Walton, said he thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Underwater Litterpick.

He said: “I found loads of bottles and old tin cans. It was a massive event which has been good for the environment. The visibility was quite good until the bottom got stirred up and I saw loads of stone fish and crabs.

“I started diving seven months ago with the sea cadets. I am an OC, ordinary cadet, and have qualified as a BSAC Ocean Diver. I want to carry on diving in the future, it’s brilliant.

“It’s especially good when we do stuff like clearing all the rubbish from the bottom of the docks. I think people who stopped to watch what we brought up were amazed at just how much trash there is in the docks.”

Keith Bayley-Hamilton says he was surprised not just by the volume of rubbish collected but by the variety of items found.

He said: “I think we all expected to find lots of bottles and tins but there were lots of other things too. Plastic is so harmful to wildlife yet there is so much of it.

“But we also found the odd old shoe, and a ladies watch although it certainly wasn’t an expensive one, more a type of fancy dress or piece of costume jewellery. And a pair of old sunglasses which was something of a strange find.

“It makes you wonder just how long some of these things have been lying in the dock and how they got there in the first place.”

The BSAC Underwater Litterpick 2013 runs until 31 October and clubs/individuals can still register to take part. Click here for details.

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust about the Big Shark Pledge (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust UK about the Big Shark Pledge.

The Big Shark Pledge aims to build one of the biggest campaigning communities in the history of shark conservation. To put pressure on governments and fisheries. And make the positive changes required to safeguard awesome sharks and rays.

Find out more at: www.bigsharkpledge.org and www.sharktrust.org.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Marine Conservation Society to take legal action over ocean sewage spills

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The Marine Conservation Society is announcing joining as co-claimant in a legal case against the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to protect English seas from sewage dumping.  

The legal case seeks to compel the Government to rewrite its Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan 2022, impose tighter deadlines on water companies and redevelop the Plan to effectively apply to coastal waters which are, currently, almost entirely excluded.  

Sandy Luk, Marine Conservation Society CEOUntreated sewage is being pumped into our seas for hundreds of thousands of hours each year; putting people, planet and wildlife at risk. 

We’ve tried tirelessly to influence the UK Government on what needs to be done, but their Plan to address this deluge of pollution entering our seas is still unacceptable. We owe it to our members, supporters and coastal communities to act, which is why we’ve joined as co-claimants on this case. We’re out of options. Our seas deserve better.”  

Launched and funded by the Good Law Project, the Marine Conservation Society will stand as co-claimants on the case with Richard Haward’s Oysters, and surfer and activist, Hugo Tagholm. 

Before reaching this point, the charity responded to a government consultation in March 2022 and met with DEFRA to express concern. In August 2022, the charity wrote an open letter to DEFRA outlining the ways in which the proposed Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan fails to protect the environment and public health from dumping raw sewage into the sea. However, the Plan hasn’t been amended and still fails to adequately address water companies’ excessive reliance on storm overflows and the harm their heavy use causes to our ocean. 

The plan virtually excludes most coastal waters (except for bathing waters) either directly or indirectly, with some types of Marine Protected Areas and shellfish waters totally excluded. 600 storm overflows are not covered at all by the Plan and will continue to – completely legally – be able to dump uncontrolled amounts of sewage directly into English seas and beaches. What’s more, the Plan lacks all urgency – with long-term targets set for 2050, and the earliest, most urgent targets not to be met until 2035.  

Meanwhile, Marine Conservation Society analysis finds that raw sewage is pouring into the ocean at an alarming rate. In total, there are at least 1,651 storm overflows within 1km of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in England. These overflows spilt untreated sewage 41,068 times in 2021. Of these, almost half the overflows spilt more than 10 times in 2021, with an average of 48 spills for each of those overflows. Overall, in 2021, sewage poured into Marine Protected Areas for a total of 263,654 hours. 

According to DEFRA’s own latest assessments, only 19% of estuaries and and 45% of coastal waters are at ‘good ecological status’, with none meeting ‘good chemical status’, and three quarters (75%) of shellfish waters failing to meet water quality standards. 

Rachel Wyatt, Policy & Advocacy Manager for Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation SocietyUntreated sewage contains a cocktail of bacteria, viruses, harmful chemicals, and microplastics. It’s nearly impossible to remove microplastics and ‘forever chemicals’ once in the environment. Due to their persistence, with every discharge, these pollutants will continue to increase, meaning eventually they will pass – or may have already passed – a threshold of harm.”  

In addition, it’s not just invisible toxins that are causing problems. In September this year at the charity’s annual Great British Beach Clean, sewage related pollution, such as wet wipes and sanitary products, were found on 73% of the beaches surveyed across England.  

A new DEFRA report, Ocean Literacy in England and Wales, shows that 85% of people say marine protection is personally important to them. Yet this is being ignored. 

Emma Dearnaley, Legal Director at the Good Law Project, said: “The Marine Conservation Society is at the forefront of tackling the ocean emergency and standing up for coastal communities impacted by climate change and pollution. We are delighted to have them on board as a co-claimant. 

“Good Law Project will work closely with the claimants, including the Marine Conservation Society, to put forward the case for more ambitious and urgent measures to reduce sewage discharges by water companies. These sewage spills are threatening human health, biodiverse marine life and the fishing industry. We believe that taking legal action now is vital to help safeguard our coastal waters for generations to come”. 

If the case is won, the Marine Conservation Society hopes to see the UK Government amend its Plan so that it meets the DEFRA Secretary of State’s legal obligations to protect the ocean and its inhabitants from raw sewage spills.   

For more visit the Marine Conservation Society website.

Header image credit: Natasha Ewins

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