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Surfers in Scarborough join the Big Spring Beach Clean campaign

PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 February 2014

Surfing in Scarborough

Surfing in Scarborough

© Tony Bartholomew

Scarborough surfers do their bit to help national clean-up project

Surfers in Scarborough have sprung into action to help the Big Spring Beach Clean – a national campaign aimed at tackling marine litter.

Boarders gathered in Yorkshire’s premier seaside town during the recent Coastival weekend to spruce up South Bay beach (and indulge in a barbecue while they were about it). They also used the opportunity to raise awareness – and a bit of cash – for Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), whose Big Spring Beach Clean aims to support 3,000 community volunteers at more than 150 events across the country.

According to SAS, the coastline from Scarborough to the Scottish border has England’s best surfing terrain – from flat slate reefs and rocky points to heavy, hollow beach breaks.

Yorkshire has an amazing slate geology that not only attracts fossil hunters from all over the world, but also provides the perfect base for producing quality reef breaks.

A tell-tale trademark of these northern waves is the brown colour of the coastal waters, which is not down to pollution, but more the silty composition of the soil and coastal sediments. This doesn’t mean, however, that Yorkshire beaches are completely problem-free. Litter is still an issue.

‘The marine litter crisis is a catastrophic environmental issue hitting beautiful beaches right around the UK,’ said Hugo Tagholm, SAS chief executive. ‘It poses an unprecedented threat to marine wildlife, coastal habitats and our enjoyment of these unique spaces.

‘Our Big Spring Beach Clean empowers communities and educates the public on how we can all play our part in turning the tide on marine litter.’

To that end, SAS has launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise vital funds for its growing marine litter campaign and to deliver the biggest ever spring clean. Organisers want to raise at least £5,000 to help train, equip and support 3,000 community volunteers nationwide at more than 150 events.

Storm Hercules, which hit our shores in early January, dumped vast quantities of plastics and other marine litter on UK beaches, highlighting the true scale of the problem facing coastal environments and communities.

This year’s official Big Spring Beach Clean will take place from March 28th-31st and aims to facilitate beach events around the coast, where volunteers are aiming to remove a minimum of 10 tonnes of debris from our litter-hit beaches.

SAS is working at community, corporate and government level to tackle the growing tide of marine litter that washes up on UK beaches every year. It will be publishing a new marine litter report later this spring as well as a five-year action plan mapping out a number of radical solutions that could help dramatically reduce marine litter levels by 2020.

‘Sadly, the springtime reveals the true severity of the marine litter crisis,’ said Hugo. ‘The impact of winter storms and the absence of seasonal council beach-cleaning operations, means the accumulation of litter can be truly shocking.

‘Typical examples of marine litter include rubbish from beach-users, sewage-related debris, waste from commercial shipping, nets and fish boxes from fishing vessels and medical waste.’

Beach litter is thought to reduce the resilience of marine ecosystems, while also having a negative effect on quality of life, recreational opportunities and the aesthetic value of the landscape.

‘Marine litter also adds to other human impacts on the marine environment such as inappropriate development, sewage and agriculture pollution, climate change and ocean acidification,’ Hugo concluded.

‘The majority of beach users rank cleanliness as a priority in choosing their destination, with 97 per cent of people who took part in a recent study saying they avoided beaches with 10 or more large litter items per metre.’

If you would like to pledge your support to the Big Spring Beach Clean, click on crowdfunder.co.uk/the-big-spring-beach-clean. For more information about Surfers Against Sewage, visit sas.org.uk.

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