Credit: Katrin Lohrengel – Sea Watch Foundation
Credit: Neptunes Army of Rubbish Cleaners
Credit: Newquay Marine Group
Rubbish on beaches, fewer fish, more plastic in the sea, rising sea temperatures …. the issues affecting our seas are hitting the headlines more and more. It was these issues that led Helen Webb and Rachel Lopata to set up a new charity called Sea-Changers in 2011, to try to find and support solutions to these problems.
Sea-Changers raises money for marine conservation work in the UK by recognising the love and concern that many people have for the sea and working, primarily with marine businesses, to harness that passion.
Helen said; ‘Our thinking was very simple. We recognised there were some massive problems facing the oceans and we wanted to do something. Our response was to set up a charity that raises money for marine conservation in the UK by creating a community of Sea-Changer businesses and individuals who will work together to raise funds to enable marine conservation initiatives and projects.
We know many people love the sea and love being able to practise their sport and leisure pursuits in, or by the sea. Sea-Changers provides these sea-users with a route to give something back and make a difference to the marine environment. We also know that for marine businesses, it makes good sense to demonstrate their environmental commitment in this very tangible way’.
Over the past five years this fundraising has enabled around 150 UK marine conservation projects to apply for and receive funding which ensures vital marine conservation projects are taking place. Whilst many funded projects are tackling the issue of litter on our shorelines, grants have also enabled research, education and species protection initiatives. Sea-Changers aim is to enable projects that tackle marine problems at source, seeking sustainable solutions, as well as addressing the immediate issues. Over the past couple of years Sea-Changers projects have included:
• Funding towards a free water bottle refill station at Polzeath Beach – the first of its kind in Cornwall (designed to reduce usage of single use plastic bottles).
• Storage benches on the Isle of Bute in key areas affected by marine litter. The benches contain handy grabbers, bags, and gloves.
• A series of clean ups in the remote islands of Argyll transporting volunteers via ribs and an inflatable dinghy.
• A pilot project aimed at the re-introduction of the native oyster to Loch Craignish, in order to improve water quality and increase biodiversity while exploring the potential for greater community-led regeneration of the loch using a keystone species.
• Local workshops in Plymouth (known as Plastic Surgeries) highlighting the dangers of plastic pollution and the alternatives available to local traders.
• Funding a pilot project run by Portsmouth University for a tidal Sea bin.
Helen added ‘Over the past twelve months the interest in our approach to enabling marine conservation has really taken off, with the public and businesses realising that they all have a part to play in the solutions to the ocean’s problems. Our unique model of funding a wide range of grass roots projects enables people and communities all around the UK to mobilise and take action. This is also of particular interest and relevance to sailing/yacht clubs and classes who we aim to extend our reach to, and interaction with, this year. We’re really excited to be building a relationship with RS Sailing who have a real passion for exploring how the sailing community can play their part in this process and are keen to develop ways in which they can support our work and engage the communities they work with do this!’
The relationship between RS Sailing and Sea-Changers is just starting so you will hear more about how we are going to work together over the coming months in this very Blog; so, keep following!
To find out more about Sea-Changers and how you can get involved, visit their website at www.sea-changers.org.uk