Call for change at ‘Sea What’s There’ event

Some of the guest speakers pictured at the ‘Sea What’s There’ event

THE second ‘Sea What’s There’ event in Lyme Regis was described as an evening of “hard information, wonder and hope”, raising awareness of how pollution and climate change is affecting our oceans. 

Organised by One Girl Productions, in association with Plastic Free Lyme Regis, the event was held at the Marine Theatre on Wednesday, October 9 with a programme of guest speakers and poignant music from members of local charity B Sharp.

William Thompson of Tidal Compass, an author, journalist and mapmaker, showed the audience how ocean currents, trade winds and the tide joined in an amazing interconnected system; how gyres are formed and the fascinating processes and positive ways they affect us, as well as the way they transport litter.

Anne Baker, an educator and ocean advocate, shared anecdotes from her all-women Exxpedition to North East Greenland. She followed in the footsteps of 1920s explorer Louise Arner Boyd, whose maps are still used today.

While the glacier logged then is still there, worryingly neither pack ice that should be too thick for any sea exploration or polar bears were seen during this trip.

Anne emphasised that small changes do make a difference and said there is no ‘away’ in ‘throw away’; any litter thrown can end up anywhere and in that process damages and destroys both us, our wildlife and all marine creatures.

Small changes can make a difference

Tom ‘the Blow Fish’ Hird, broadcaster, marine biologist and ocean ambassador for the Marine Conservation Society, presented ‘The Plastic Tsunami’, explaining how plastic is infiltrating not only islands where there are no inhabitants, but also our food chain and even chocking the algae we need to oxygenate the planet.

He reminded the audience that 50% of plastic waste in the oceans is down to fishing and related industries, but the other 50% is down to us, and reiterated that any change however small was scientifically proven to make a difference.

Dr Adam Rees, a researcher for the Blue Marine Foundation and Lyme Bay Reserve, gave the audience thoughtful insight and some encouraging news; the work on Lyme Bay Reserve has already scientifically proven to be making a difference to the marine life and sustainable fishing industry in the area.

Other concerns, initiatives and sustainable businesses were also discussed, such as the mussel farm just outside the reserve that’s being closely monitored. There is also hope that the Lyme Bay Reserve scheme will be replicated around other coasts.

By-catch was also discussed and how laws initially put in to protect our marine species are failing and need to be looked at.

Community’s commitment is paying off

Organiser Karen Durham-Diggins commented: “We have seen some real change in recent months – a few multi-nationals are doing more than pay lip service; our own local council have declared a climate emergency and are trying to address many issues going forward; and Surfers Against Sewage have emboldened and encouraged communities, like our own through Plastic Free Lyme Regis, to facilitate grassroots change and encourage locals to actually do something and they are!

“Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Anita Rani’s programme ‘War on Waste’ really helped show up a lot of waste companies and how we can all start making a difference.

“Sadly a humpback whale swam up and died in the Thames, perhaps it was banging home the point that Extinction Rebellion were trying to make over the last few weeks, as has the eloquent Greta Thunberg.

“Young people like Greta are making their voices heard and with actions such as the school strikes, and many are finally starting to listen.

“The overall message of the evening was about change, together with sustainability and to do something. We can all make a difference and our continued commitment as a community is paying off.”

Demonstrating ocean currents on stage at the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis
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