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MCS challenges people to get through July single-use plastic free

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Can you detox your plastic life and smash the Plastic Challenge? 

The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) annual challenge to the public to avoid single-use plastic during the whole of July is right around the corner and the charity hopes that even more than the 9,000 people who got involved in 2018 will take up the Plastic Challenge in 2019.

Now in its sixth year, 9,000 people took up the challenge in 2018. The popularity of the Plastic Challenge is growing, but because Britain is still wedded to single-use plastic it won’t be an easy month for those taking part. Of the more than 8 million tonnes of it that get dumped in our oceans every year, half of it comes from disposable plastics that are only used once before being thrown away.

MCS runs hundreds of beach cleans annually and during last year’s Great British Beach Clean, 70% of the litter found on almost 500 UK beaches cleaned by MCS volunteers was made of plastic or polystyrene, posing a huge threat to wildlife and humans. 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.

Erin O’Neill, MCS Digital Editor, is coordinating the Plastic Challenge for the charity: “We know that it’s pretty much impossible to live completely plastic-free, but there are ways to reduce your plastic footprint and we hope that by throwing down this challenge it will focus minds on trying to ditch as much of the single-use stuff as possible.

“So, it’s time to think about all types of single-use plastic, much of which we don’t even recognise anymore as it’s become just everyday ‘stuff’. There’s food packaged in plastic, plastic water bottles, plastic milk bottles, shower gels, toothpaste to name but a very few to get you started!

MCS says that people taking on the Plastic Challenge are often shocked to discover just how much single-use plastic they have been using every day: “We say, please have a go – and even if you can only manage a single day, you’ll never look at your shopping in the same way again!” added Erin O’Neill.

MCS says that over the last six years of the challenge, it’s clear that for many, this month is the start of a lifestyle change. Among the hardest things people have found to replace are milk containers, dried goods packaged in single use plastic like pasta, rice and pulses, loo paper and toothpaste.

Erin O’Neill says there’s plenty of help on hand: “Our website offers all sorts of tips and advice and during the month of July. You can follow our social media feeds to get tips from other Challengers, share your wins, however small, or just see what lengths people are going to when trying to cut down. However long you last – an hour, a day, a week or the whole month – we’d love to know you’re out there, giving it a go.”

Three MCS Ocean Ambassadors will also be taking on the Challenge.

Deborah Meaden, entrepreneur and dragon on BBC2’s Dragons Den says: “I’m really concerned about the excessive packaging that you find in supermarkets and I’ll be going all out to face the Plastic Challenge head on. I know I won’t be able to eradicate all single-use plastic out of my life but I’ll be giving it a damn good try. I’d urge everyone to give it a go. We must act now.

Ben Garrod – Professor of Evolutionary Biology, author and TV presenter says: “For giving us so much, we should do all we can to ensure our seas continue to flourish. I’m taking on the Plastic Challenge to show that it is possible to make an impact on our single-use plastic lives. I travel a lot so I know it’s going to be hard but I’ll be tweeting about my experiences and I hope it’ll help others on the same journey.

Sharron Davies MBE – World, European, Commonwealth and Olympic swimmer and sports broadcaster says: “Water has played a huge part in my life but it breaks my heart to see how we are abusing our seas and oceans. As a mum to a teenager, I know the Plastic Challenge will be tough, because like so many people, I often opt for convenience and that generally comes in single-use plastic. But I’m determined to give it my best shot.”

There will be three Plastic Challenge launch events on June 29th in London, Crickhowell in south Wales and Edinburgh. MCS staff will be signing people up the Challenge, offering tips on how to get started with a helpful booklet and handing out spinach seeds to grow at home.

Getting involved is simple. Register at www.mcsuk.org/plastic-challenge and get 24/7 help with the MCS book:  “How To Live Plastic Free – a day in the life of a plastic detox.” 

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Breaking News: Captain charged in Conception boat fire tragedy

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According to reports in the international press today, it has been announced that the Captain of the dive boat Conception, which was completely destroyed by fire last year, resulting in the tragic loss of 34 passengers and crew, has been charged with 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter. 

The Captain Jerry Nehl Boylan was among five crew members to escape the blaze on board Conception, a dive boat operated by Truth Aquatics, which took place in the early hours of 2 September 2019 whilst the boat was moored offshore, close to Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California.

The BBC reports that Mr Boylan has not publicly commented on the charges, and is expected to surrender to the authorities at a later date. According to the BBC, each charge of seaman’s manslaughter carries up to 10 years in federal prison.

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Crossover to NAUI for FREE!

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As a boost to help the diving industry, NAUI are still offering a FREE Instructor cross-over course together with five free certifications to all Instructors. This can include Open Water, Advance, Rescue, Nitrox and various other specialities and can be mixed and matched so all five do not necessarily need to be for the same certification.

NAUI have also frozen the membership fees for 2021 for instructors crossing over or restarting.

NAUI’s Southern UK Rep Simon Lodge says: “Throughout this year, the diving industry has severely suffered so as a result, to help kickstart the diving industry NAUI will not be charging membership fees 2020/2021 to any new instructors.” 

Founded in 1960, NAUI Worldwide is one of the scuba industry’s largest not-for-profit agencies whose purpose is to enable people to enjoy underwater activities as safely as possible by providing the highest quality practical education, and to actively promote the preservation and protection of the world’s underwater environments. As a pioneer in diving education, NAUI has developed many of the programs and concepts accepted throughout the diving industry. NAUI: A Higher Standard!

For more details please contact Simon Lodge (Southern UK Rep) on simon@europe.naui.org or Craig Warner (Northern UK Rep) on cwarner@europe.naui.org.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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