Published - 26/04/2010
Emma set to share her ideas on global beach cleaning
Emma Snowden, from the MCS litter team, is currently in Mexico at the International Coastal Cleanup conference organised by Ocean Conservancy.
Emma is the sole representative from the UK at the event from 28th April -1st May, and will be sharing the success of the MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend as well as hearing experiences of marine litter from other delegates from across the world.
MCS and the Ocean Conservancy are all about reducing litter at source - we need to stop it getting there in the first place. Our Beachwatch Big Weekend takes place every year to coincide with the International Coastal Cleanup so the results of our survey are included in the Ocean Conservancy's International Report. Our volunteers in the UK are truly making a global contribution.
Emma has a travelling companion in the shape of Fred the monkey - an international litter campaigner. Read his story here and follow Emma's blog from Cancun below
Fred says, "We're off to Mexico for International Conference on marine litter, so excited and cant wait! Helped Emma check in at the airport.
Wow, view from our room is amazing, I'm suffering from vertigo, my legs turn to jelly every time I go to my room!
Here we are, getting all settled in for 1st day of conference, waiting for introductions to start
Emma Snowden and Fred representing UK, we are sat next to Vikki Spruil President & CEO of Ocean Conservancy, we chose our seat well..... :-)
Lindsey Hoshaw - journalist has been out to the pacific gyre and reported on the 3 main myths surrounding it)
Fred Reports on the Pacific Garbage Patch: Myth vs Reality:-
1. It is not an Island or the 8th Continent! People have actually asked can we live on it!
Most of it is tiny pieces, distributed through the water column, it is a soup of small plastic pieces. There are some large objects like nets and toilet seats, and lots of toothbrushes!
2. People say...isnt is all there becuase of Intentional dumping at sea
well...yes some intentional dumping at sea of course is happening and there are accidental one off shipping events BUT the majority, 80% - (according to this presentation) is coming from us!! OC's latest report is called, trash travels from our hands to the Sea, around the globe and through time. We really have the power to stop it getting there in the first place!
3."Why cant we just go and clean it up"
Many species of fish have made there homes in or under larger items of debris so removing it could have implications for wildlife. (there is a fab slideshow to go with this illustrating a trigger fish living in some litter but I doubt I will be able to e-mail that back! - all the presentaions I have are on a memory stick so we can always add pics to this on my return)
Also....no-one really knows how big it is, samples were taken from Algalita research vessel only down to 30m in the water column and most as I said before is a soup of plastic pieces, its not that easy to just go and clear it all up!
Other highlights from today include:
Presentation from Coca Cola in Mexico, who would have thought that coca cola had such an amazing sustainability programme inlcuding a water and forest programme. School training programmes and sustainable packaging, they recycle 25,000 tonnes of PET/Yr and now have up to 35% content recyled packaging in their bottles.
Coordinators from around the world shared experiences of their partnerships over the last year, Emma reported about our amazing national Beachwatch Sponsor, "SeaFrance Dover Calais Ferries" and what a fantastic relationship we have with them and how all the amazing volunteers in the UK allow MCS to campaign nationally and Internationally on marine litter so we can all turn the tide.
Over 40 coordinators present
It is through partnerships like this we can make a difference
The ICC is not a 1 day event - this is a movement - largest volunteer effort on behalf of the Ocean
110 countries and half a million people took part in the 2009 ICC event in September.
The data collected is a powerful tool that we can use to bring about change
There is so much more but I need sleep :-) up at 6am tomorrow (sorry for all awful spelling mistakes)
Today we learnt more about other people's long-term strategies for changing behaviour, lessons from ocean conservancy's recent riverside behaviour-change pilot project.
Fred and Emma meet Douglas Carlton Abrams - Author of "Eye of the Whale". Douglas gave one of the most inspiring talks we have ever heard, goose bumps all over my body! This captivating ecological thriller is about a marine biologist whose fate is altered after the unexpected experience of a humpback whale sends her on a race to discover the meaning of its mysterious song and its implications for human survival.
Fred is out and about meeting everyone at the conference
picture: Fred meets Vikki Spruill: President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy
check out: www.oceanconservancy.org
The new Online ICC Registration and data tool -This was fabulous learning for us as we are building a new online system just like this for all our fab Beachwatch organisers and volunteers. It'll make it easier for everyone to register, take part and return their vital beach litter data to us so we can continue to turn the tide on litter in the UK! Yipeeee I hear you all say......
Fred and John Kieser from South Africa, John works for Plastics Federation of South Africa! He is a cool dude :-)
We also learnt how the US Environmental Protection Agency's new initiative will enage people in improving the long-term health of urban waterways in the States.
Oh..and last but not least we chatted to Megan Forbes from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminsistration) NOAA are one of the lead agencies tasked with delivering the responsibilities of the US Marine Debris Research, Prevention and Reduction Act so we can learn from them as we continue to keep the pressure on UK Governments to publish an action plan for marine litter in the UK by Dec 2011!
Not bad for a days work, Emma and Fred signing off :-)
It's the last day of the conference
Today was focussed on measuring the effectiveness of our work using data to support and underpin campaigns to bring about change. It's not just about trying to stop the litter from getting into our oceans and onto our beaches in the first place but how to run effective campaigns to change peoples behaviours about littering.
We heard from Carrie Gallagher, Vice President, Programs and Stragic outreach from Keep Amercia Beautiful. (KAB)
KAB have carried out extensive research over 130 sites in the US looking into how and why people litter in the US, including looking at transition points. e.g where people stop to eat or smoke before going into a building. The research shows some really interesting revations about litter and littering behaviuor.
We also heard from Katie Register, Executive Director from Clean Virginia Waterways, Katie is also an ICC coordinator and looking for ideas for balloon campaigns, it was great to be able to show her our fab MCS 'Dont let Go' leaflet and what successes MCS has had already with this campaign and we'll be following these up with Katei on our return.
Everyone at the conference loved MCS's resources & leaflets.
Emma and Fred had a brainstorming session with other international coorindators: Rajan Vir:, Indian Maritime Institute & Alejandra Lopex de Roman from Mexico
Raj is going to be in Herefordshire at the end June so is going to come and meet MCS staff and have a tour of our offices! We cant wait to welcome him!!
We have had very strong gale force winds here, we think from the el nino - very unusual to have such hugh winds here, even some palm trees have been uprooted!
This means we havent made it into the sea as it has been dangerous with strong currents BUT a lot of litter was thrown up onto the beach so Emma and Fred went out to see what we could find
Emma an Fred have had the most amazing time, we have met wonderful people and have learnt sooo much, I just hope we have the opporinuty to come to the next Ocean Conservancy conference to join all the fabulous cooindators from all around the world. Everbopdy is working so hard to make a diffference to turn the tide on litter.....
We all got together at the end and everyone had a group photo with Fred
Emma and Fred signing off, adios amigos....
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