Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Ocean Plastics Awareness Day attended by The Prince of Wales on Fistral Beach in Newquay.

'Fishing For Litter' South West took part in an Ocean Plastics Awareness Day attended by The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on Fistral Beach, Newquay on the 22nd July.

HRH The Prince of Wales being introduced to Sarah Crosbie, Fishing For Litter South West Project Coordinator and Chris Ranford, Fisheries Community Animateur Cornwall Rural Community Charity, during an Ocean Plastics Awareness Day on Fistral Beach, Newquay on the 22nd July.

Their Royal Highnesses saw first-hand how community action in the county of Cornwall is bringing together many thousands of people to help combat the menace of marine plastic litter. The Ocean Plastics Awareness Day gave NGOs, local and national government and industry an opportunity to commit to exploring and delivering pilot schemes to prevent the flow of plastics to local beaches. Extending these schemes and some further simple actions could help dramatically reduce the amount of litter across Cornwall’s beaches, countryside, towns and villages. 

The event also saw the launch of a Statement of Intent signed by participating NGOs, local government, academia and businesses to explore, develop and deliver innovative circular economy pilot projects. A circular economy is one that sees waste as a valuable resource rather than a burden. The royal couple were hosted by Surfers Against Sewage, the Marine Conservation Society and Clean Cornwall, who, collectively enlisted the support of well over 30,000 people to clean up beaches around the UK in the past year. Fishing For Litter South West joined other organisations, communities and businesses involved in developing solutions to reduce litter at source and shared their experiences and ideas with Their Royal Highnesses on the beach.

HRH The Prince of Wales has long taken an interest in the health of the marine environment and the need to address waste. The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit has attempted to integrate conversations on marine plastic waste with those focusing on the circular economy at a global level. The activities taking place in Cornwall showcased what can be done to address waste locally.

Cornwall has some of the most beautiful beaches and countryside in the UK. However, all too often these are blighted by litter, much of which is plastic. KIMO’s Fishing for Litter scheme is a great example of a recovery project that contributes to the circular economy. The Project was supported on the day by one of its sponsors, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) who are responsible for funding for fishing community projects in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Other projects attending included fishing net recycling initiatives and the Finisterre bottles to clothing initiative. Used as models of best practice, these and other schemes, showcased on Ocean Plastics Awareness Day, could be rolled out in other parts of the country. Sarah Crosbie, Fishing For Litter South West Project Coordinator says, “KIMO’s Fishing for Litter Project is an imaginative yet simple initiative that aims to reduce marine litter by involving one of the key stakeholders, the fishing industry.

Fishing for Litter's latest promotional material.

The Project, which has been highlighted by policy makers as a tried and tested tool that can be used to both remove litter from the sea and raise awareness of the issue, provides commercial fishing boats with large bags to collect all the marine litter recovered at sea during normal fishing activities. When full, these bags are deposited securely at participating harbours. 

The Project covers the cost of waste disposal and is working to investigate and secure recycling opportunities for the marine litter once brought ashore. KIMO’s pioneering project has expanded and affiliated projects are currently operating in Scotland, South West England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and at Holderness, East Yorkshire. Fishing For Litter South West was thrilled to have been invited to take part in this important event, to help highlight the issue of marine plastics and to demonstrate the fishing industry’s support and commitment to reducing marine litter.”

Hugo Tagholm, Surfers Against Sewage Chief Executive says “Surfers Against Sewage campaigns tirelessly to protect beaches around the UK from the growing threat of plastic marine litter. Cornwall has some of the most impressive coastline in the UK, with award winning beaches, unique marine habitats and many sites of special surfing interest, which are now the focus of the growing community effort to tackle marine litter. Annually, Surfers Against Sewage not only works with over 15,000 grassroots volunteers to remove plastic waste from the beach, but is also collaborating with pioneering projects to use waste plastics as a key resource in producing new products, from skateboards to carpet tiles. We are delighted to be part of a collective shift towards a circular economy to protect Cornwall’s beaches from plastics, which should be seen as a valuable resource rather than unwanted waste that society can simply discard.”

Sam Fanshawe, MCS Chief Executive says “For over two decades, Marine Conservation Society volunteers have recorded a rising tide of rubbish - with plastic litter rising by over 180% since we began surveys in 1994. There is a huge collective effort in Cornwall to reduce litter and keep Cornwall’s world-class beaches clean. We want to work with businesses, government and community groups to come up with innovative solutions to this unnecessary, unsightly and harmful waste. As President of the Marine Conservation Society, HRH The Prince of Wales has shown unstinting support for the volunteer effort to clean up our seas and beaches and encourage industry sectors to support a circular economy.”