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Surfers Against Sewage Unites Ocean Activists For Post-Lockdown Plastic Protest

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From the 5th September to the 18th October ‘The Generation Sea: Plastic Protest’ will see communities, coordinated by the ocean conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage, take part in six grass-routes actions designed to challenge the manufacturers of unnecessary, single-use plastics, change public perception and demand stronger legislation from the government.

Since lockdown has been lifted there has been an explosion of plastic pollution on our beaches and in our rivers. Our streets have become littered with PPE and Big Business has seen the pandemic as a loophole to revert back to their old ways of pumping out single-use and unnecessary plastics. In France alone, authorities have ordered two billion disposable masks and reports have stated that the Mediterranean will soon contain more masks than jellyfish. Surfers Against Sewage and communities of ocean activists across the country are mobilising to fight this wave of plastic inundating our environment. The Generation Sea: Plastic Protest will see ocean activists everywhere stand up and fight for a better world free of avoidable, excessive and single use plastic.

Images of popular UK beauty spots devastated by plastic pollution have become the norm, and whilst many try to use disposal facilities responsibility, bins are bursting at the seams. This has highlighted the pressure that waste and recycling systems are under to cope with the sheer volume of material needing to be dealt with.

Amy Slack, Surfers Against Sewage’s Head of Campaigns and Policy comments: “As a society, we must learn to deal with multiple crises at any one time. Now is not the time to go back on the great strides we have made in reducing plastic production and consumption. It’s time to fight back and demand better policy, better business practices, and better systems that allow us to rid the ocean and natural environments of plastic pollution.”

Starting on the UK’s beaches, the protest will see groundswell actions all aimed at highlighting the irrefutable evidence of the plastic pollution crisis. The series of events will include:

  1. Big SAS Beach Clean: Summit To Sea: From mountain tops to beach fronts and busy streets to flowing rivers, in excess of 600 cleans will take place across the UK mobilising over 35,000 volunteers and removing over 40,000kg of plastic pollution.
  2. Brand Audit: Calling out big brands, over 250 vital datasets will be collected, recording the impacts industry has on the coastline and highlighting the top polluters.
  3. Return To Offender: Designed to directly challenge companies responsible for unnecessary, avoidable single-use packaging through social media, over 1,000 items of branded packaging pollution will be digitally returned to companies through social media.
  4. Less Plastic Please: From half cucumbers in bags to coconuts wrapped in clingfilm, the Less Plastic Please Survey will demand supermarkets take action of their customers plastic pet hates.
  5. Trash Talk: Supermarkets create an estimated 59 billion pieces of packaging totalling over 800,000 tonnes per year. That is simply not good enough. Ocean activists everywhere will be writing to their MP’s and local stores to demand reduction in plastic.
  6. Plastic Free Schools: Education is key to ending the cycle. With schools reopening, it’s time to bring the environment back into the classroom through the Plastic Free Schools programme.

Jack Middleton, Surfers Against Sewage’s Community and Events Manager comments: “The well-documented increase in plastic pollution following the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions has seen an outpouring of support for environmental protection nationwide. We are issuing a rallying cry to these ocean activists to join us in targeting every element of the plastic pollution crisis and bringing about tangible change for our oceans.”

We have seen the Government roll back on the progress we have made in tackling the plastic pollution crisis. The 5p plastic bag change has be waived for food deliveries, the ban on straws, stirrers and cotton bud sticks, that was just weeks away from being introduced, has been postponed, and delays in the Environment Bill are likely to result in yet further delays to the introduction of deposit return systems and extended producer responsibility, both critical components of reducing the scourge of plastic pollution.

This cannot go on.

To take part register at www.sas.org.uk or email beachcleans@sas.org.uk

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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Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Ivan Donoghue

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In an ongoing series, Scubaverse’s Underwater Photography Editor Nick Robertson-Brown talks to underwater photographers from around the world that he admires. In this blog: Ivan Donoghue


NRB: Tell us a little about yourself

ID: My name is Ivan Donoghue.  I live in a coastal county of Ireland called Wexford and it was with Wexford Sub Aqua Club that I learned to dive in 1990.  In 1996 I bought my first small housing for a disposable camera, then moving up through a Nikonos V, several compact digital cameras and now shoot with a Canon 7Dii DSLR in an Aquatica housing.

Over the years I’ve had modest success in some of the underwater competitions including the British and Irish Underwater Photography Championship, the British Wildlife Photography Awards, Hook Peninsula Photography Competition, Diving Life Photography Competition, and this year I was truly delighted to be awarded the Love Your Coast Photographer of the Year.

I have run the main underwater photography and videography competitions for Irish divers and I’m proud to have helped promote underwater photography in Ireland.

NRB: How did your underwater photography start?

ID: I began diving in 1990 with my local club, Wexford Sub Aqua, in the south east of Ireland.  After six years of learning the skills, I purchase my first u/w camera, an UNDY housing which accepted disposable cameras.  After that I bought a second-hand Nikonos V (now resting on my shelf).  After that it was a couple of compacts before moving to DLSR with a Canon 550D and Aquatica housing and then a Canon 7Dii in recent years.

NRB: What is your favourite u/w camera equipment (past & present) & why?

ID: My current Canon 7Dii and Aquatica housing travels home and away with me, but the one piece of equipment that opened my eyes was the INON wide angle wet lens.  Adding the ability to get close to the subject is a game changer in everyone’s images.  Where once I could only get a diver’s face, now I was getting their whole body and fins.  It really was a game changer for my photography.

NRB: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?

ID: Firstly, if I could go back in time, I believe a dedicated underwater photography workshop would have been so beneficial to me and cut out a lot of mistakes. Secondly, buy a camera and housing set up that allows a wide-angle lens to be fitted.  Getting close and adding good light to the image will make your pictures stand out.  Shoot RAW and shoot using manual settings.

NRB: What, or who, has been the single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?

ID: I believe Alex Mustard is the best in the world.  Not only does he take award winning images, write books, he also educates people on how they can become better through books, talks and trips.

However, my biggest inspiration is Irishman Nigel Motyer.  I first met Nigel when we were discussing introducing an U/W photography course for the Irish Dive organisation.  That day he lent me his SLR and I took my first wide angle pic.  From that day we have travelled to the Bahamas, west of Ireland and Hook Head and on these dives, I have learnt from him.

NRB: What image are you most proud of and why?

ID: The image I am most proud of is the recent one of the Jellyfish and Diver.  The reason is that it was the winner of the Love Your Coast competition 2020, the first time an underwater image took top prize.  The picture also shows a dive friend Nick Pfeiffer who kindly took me and my wife in his boat that day to the Aran Islands and also had the good manners to make the background more interesting by posing!  That is what divers do for each other – we go that extra mile to help fellow divers.

NRB: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it your favourite for the photography?

ID: I love the Red Sea and have been lucky to have a dived their several times.  Egypt and its history is something that grows on you.  Now that my son is older and has a dive qualification, I hope to spend more holiday time there.

Back at home in Ireland I love a shore dive about 40 mins from my home.  It is a ten-minute walk from the car to the site, but when you get there, it is a shallow site with the Schlesien shipwreck, propellor, hidden caves and a blowhole where you can surface for a chat.

NRB: What are you views on marine life manipulation, moving subjects?

ID: I don’t like the idea of adding anything to a picture and it’s the same when it comes to harassing animals or damaging coral for a picture opportunity.

NRB: What do you look for when you are making your images?

ID: I love wide angle images, so I look for something in the foreground with a diver in the frame.  Good visibility is a bonus, but not guaranteed in Irish waters of my home county where either windy weather or plankton blooms affect the seasons.

NRB: What motivates you to take u/w photos?

ID: I love scuba diving and I love photography, so those two addictions are very potent.  In addition, for the underwater photographer the gratification doesn’t stop after the dive.  It continues through to the download of images and reviewing them on the computer.  A good photography dive can keep giving enjoyment for days afterwards.

NRB: If you could photograph any one thing/place what or where would that be?

ID: I’ve always looked enviously at the travel features in Scubaverse, so a lot of the places featured in the magazine would me on my wish list.  I’d love to do the cage diving trip to photograph Great White Shark off Guadeloupe.  I’d also love to travel to Indonesia with my family, as it’s a part of the world I’ve never been to, but I know offers superb diving and photography opportunities.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Call for Amazon Shark Ban

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Alice Cimino, made a shocking discovery while shopping on Amazon. As the founder of OceanKin Conservation she was appalled to discover the sale of shark products in the form of newborn baby sharks preserved in bottles and offered as gifts. Just over a week ago, Alice launched a petition urging Amazon to ban the sale of shark products on petition platform change.com which has garnered an overwhelming response.

Amazon permit the sale of shark products on their U.S.A platform from vulnerable and endangered species, such as the Spiny Dogfish shark and Mako shark. These items range from shark pups in bottles, Mako teeth and Mako jaws to supplements created with chondroitin aka shark cartilage.

I am trying to encourage Amazon to align their actions with their words as they profess to be a company with good values,” said Alice Cimino.

As she dug deeper, Alice’s investigations uncovered surprising contradictions within the global shopping giant’s policies and sustainability credentials. Through their Smile program Amazon support ocean conservationists such as WWF and Ocean Conservancy. Amazon also outlined plans for the company to be completely carbon free by 2040. Alice explained, “Allowing the sale of shark products not only sends the wrong message to consumers, it is also at odds with the ethics Amazon claim they have.”

Sharks populations are in critical decline, with a 70% decrease over the past 60 years. “If we don’t stand up for this keystone species, our oceans ecosystems will collapse, it’s that simple. Amazon should stand by their sustainability statements and work with the marine community to protect the oceans most important apex predator, the shark.

A link to OceanKin’s petition can be found at www.oceankinconservation.com

Updates and further information on the campaign can be found on Instagram @oceankin_conservation  & @protectoceankin on Twitter.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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