NEWS

‘DO THE RIGHT THING AND STOP LIT­TER END­ING UP IN THE STOM­ACHS OF SEALS AND FISH’

Sport Diver - - Contents -

A new cam­paign is launched urg­ing Lon­don­ers to look af­ter the Thames and the wildlife that calls it home, and Bri­tish free­d­iver Michael Board sets a new record.

In­ter­na­tional ex­plorer Paul Rose joined a Thames fore­shore clean up on 30 Septem­ber and called on Lon­don­ers to ‘do the right thing’ and make sure their rub­bish goes in the bin, not in the river. Paul kicked off the Port of Lon­don Author­ity (Pla)-led cam­paign at a clear-up on the Isle of Dogs’ fore­shore, over­look­ing his­toric Greenwich Royal Naval Col­lege. The cam­paign aims to raise aware­ness of the harm that rub­bish in the Thames is do­ing to wildlife and why it’s im­por­tant to stop it get­ting there in the first place.

“I love the Thames,” said Paul. “I grew up near by it in Rain­ham, so it was part of my ev­ery­day life for many years. Now I’ve come back to help raise aware­ness of the harm rub­bish does in the river and the sim­ple things you need to do to stop it get­ting there in the first place.

“The mes­sage to peo­ple is sim­ple: do the right thing. Bag up your rub­bish and make sure it’s dis­posed of prop­erly. If you don’t, the wind will snatch it and blow it along un­til it finds the wa­ter, stops dead and stays there. It only comes back out again when peo­ple like the PLA, Thames21 and their vol­un­teers come along to take it, bag it and re­cy­cle it. If it’s not re­cov­ered it ends up in the stom­achs of seals, fish and other marine life in the river.”

Thames Fes­ti­val di­rec­tor, Adrian Evans, who over­sees To­tally Thames, joined the call for ac­tion. He said: “We’ve spent the whole of Septem­ber cel­e­brat­ing the Thames, with events bring­ing over two mil­lion peo­ple to the river and its banks. So the mes­sage is sim­ple. We’ve got eleven months un­til the next fes­ti­val - in that time, let’s do all we can stop the flood of rub­bish go­ing into the Thames.”

Ev­ery year the PLA re­cov­ers more than 400 tonnes of rub­bish from the river Thames. Some of it heavy wood which is haz­ardous to ships; the vast ma­jor­ity is plas­tic of all kinds, mostly bot­tles, but also spoons, car­tons and Q Tips.

“The river is like a great big rub­bish mag­net,” said PLA chief ex­ec­u­tive, Robin Mortimer. “If you’re close to the river and don’t bin your cof­fee cup, wa­ter bot­tle or sand­wich wrap­per prop­erly, there’s only one place it’s go­ing to end up. And if we are not able to re­cover those plas­tics, they’ll ul­ti­mately end up in the scores of birds, fish and seals that the river is home to.”

Rub­bish in the world’s rivers is feed­ing a global prob­lem with large vol­umes of plas­tic float­ing in some parts of the ocean. Sci­en­tists say there are five large swirls known as ‘garbage patches’, where each square kilo­me­tre of sur­face wa­ter holds al­most 600,000 pieces of plas­tic de­bris. Seabirds found with plas­tics in their gut in­clude al­ba­trosses, gulls, pe­trels, and pen­guins.

Deb­bie Leach, CEO of Thames21 says the cam­paign is es­sen­tial to halt a seem­ingly un­stop­pable tide of rub­bish: “We go to the Thames fore­shore, do a great clear-up, leav­ing the it clear of rub­bish, go back a week later, the rub­bish is back with count­less bot­tles and bags to be re­cov­ered all over again. The only way to make progress is to stop the rub­bish at source: when it leaves peo­ple’s hands it needs to go in the right place, the bin.” The cam­paign is backed by groups in­clud­ing Thames21, To­tally Thames, the En­vi­ron­ment Agency, Thames Tide­way Tun­nel, Thames Es­tu­ary Part­ner­ship, Lon­don Wildlife Trust and the RSPB. It fea­tures four posters and a film in which Paul Rose ex­plains the scale of the prob­lem and how peo­ple can ‘Do the Right Thing’.

The cam­paign launch comes as Thames Wa­ter gears up to start work on the Thames Tide­way Tun­nel which will stop the dis­charge of over 40 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of raw sewage into the river ev­ery year.

“Forty years ago the Thames was bi­o­log­i­cally dead,” said Tide­way chief ex­ec­u­tive Andy Mitchell. “To­day we’ve got 125 species of fish in the river, so progress has been fan­tas­tic. We’re do­ing our bit to clean the river by build­ing the Tun­nel, now we’re call­ing on Lon­don­ers to do their bit too. So we all have a river to be truly proud of.”

ABOUT THE THAMES EN­VI­RON­MENT

• The ti­dal Thames is home to more than 125 dif­fer­ent species of fish.

• The lat­est (2014) Thames seal count by the Zoo­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Lon­don found more than 900 seals liv­ing in the river. Over ten years of pub­lic re­port­ing of seals in the river, Ca­nary Wharf has es­tab­lished it­self as the Thames’ seal spot­ting hotspot.

• More than 300,000 over win­ter­ing birds make their home on the Thames ev­ery year.

• The river is home to en­vi­ron­men­tally im­por­tant and pro­tected sites in­clud­ing: nine Sites of Spe­cial Sci­en­tific In­ter­est, four Spe­cial Ar­eas of Con­ser­va­tion and two Spe­cial Pro­tec­tion Ar­eas.

ABOUT THE PLA

• The PLA is a self-fi­nanc­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion, set-up by an Act of Par­lia­ment in 1909 to run the ti­dal River Thames in trust for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Its 350-strong work­force over­sees safe nav­i­ga­tion, pro­tects the marine en­vi­ron­ment and pro­motes the use of the river. The PLA has no share­hold­ers and any financial sur­pluses are rein­vested in ste­ward­ship of the river and im­prov­ing the ef­fi­ciency of PLA op­er­a­tions.

• The PLA over­sees nav­i­ga­tional safety and river op­er­a­tions on 95 miles of the ti­dal Thames from Ted­ding­ton Lock, through the cap­i­tal, and out to the sea.

ABOUT THAMES 21

• Thames21 is the voice for Lon­don’s wa­ter­ways, work­ing with com­mu­ni­ties to im­prove rivers and canals for peo­ple and wildlife.

• Thames21 mo­bilises thou­sands of vol­un­teers ev­ery year to clean and green the cap­i­tal’s 400-mile net­work of wa­ter­ways.

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