Channel swimmer highlights importance of tackling plastics pollution


Lewis Pugh stopped by at Tinside Lido as part of his Long Swim tour. Photo credit: Jason Kiely / One Plymouth

Plymouth got a high profile boost for both its Plan for Plastics and a potential bid for National Marine Park status when Lewis Pugh, UN Patron of the Oceans, stopped by in Britain’s Ocean City as part of The Long Swim.

Lewis, who was born in Plymouth but now lives in Africa, is swimming the full length of the English Channel, starting in Land’s End on Thursday 12 July and came to Plymouth on Friday 20 July. The Long Swim is part of a worldwide campaign entitled Action for Oceans, an initiative that is calling on governments to fully protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030. FXTM is the lead partner on the Long Swim and Speedo is the official partner.

During his visit to Plymouth, Lewis was welcomed with a special cream tea with Lord Mayor Councillor Sam Davey, a reception event at the National Marine Aquarium, a swimming event at Tinside hosted by Speedo, and an exhibition about The Long Swim at The Dome. The events were supported by a range of local partners from the Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce, a multi-agency partnership which aims to reduce single use plastics in Plymouth.

While he was in Plymouth, Lewis said: “Everything starts with education. We have to educate all water users about the health of our ocean. It’s now a race against time… not just to stop the damage, but to restore the health of our oceans. Plymouth is perfectly suited to lead the way.

“The world is divided into pioneers and followers; you can’t be both. But this city is famous for its pioneers. It’s in our bones. So when it comes to ocean conservation, it’s fit and it’s right that this city leads the way.”

In June 2018, Plymouth achieved Plastic Free Communities status for its historic waterfront, with more than 70 business pioneers and 50 community ambassadors in Plymouth including local businesses, schools and community groups, supported the city’s bid by pledging to reduce the amount of single use plastics they consume. The bid for the Surfers Against Sewage-approved status was led by Environment Plymouth but supported by the Plastics Taskforce. During June, reusable plastic cups and bottles were also launched to help reduce single use plastics in Plymouth, with more than 7,000 sales of the cups to date.

Councillor Sue Dann, Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene for Plymouth City Council, said: “All the partners on the Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce were delighted to welcome Lewis to Plymouth as part of The Long Swim. We know he is passionate about protecting our oceans and this is something we also feel very strongly about here in Plymouth. It was perfect timing for Plymouth as well, with our ongoing work to address plastic waste and plans to secure National Marine Park status for the city.

“Last month the Taskforce launched the new Plan for Plastics and since then there has been ongoing commitment to both reducing single use plastics and cutting down on plastic pollution. This includes litter picks, beach cleans, and the first ever Plastic Free Picnic. We were also really pleased for the city to achieve Plastic Free Waterfront status from Surfers Against Sewage, and we are now working towards Plastic Free City status.”

Environment Plymouth co-ordinator Jackie Young said “When we all met to discuss marine plastics last December, we could not have predicted how far we’d progress in such a short time and how much positive energy local communities would pour in to tackling plastic pollution. But here we are, seven months on and we are delighted to be working with the BOC Task Group to secure the extended Plastic Free Community status for the city. The action is ongoing. Only this weekend 22 paddlers from the Port of Plymouth Canoeing Association cleared 2.5km of the Sound’s inaccessible beaches and, with help from the Plymouth Beach Clean Volunteers filled nine huge bags of rubbish…the first Ambassadors led sea-clean.”

The Taskforce is now working on the four pillars of the Plan for Plastics – Avoid, Recycle, Innovate and Connect – to embed it across the city.

In addition, partners across Plymouth are working together with the aim of securing National Marine Park status and a conference was hosted in the city last month, hosted by the Blue Marine Foundation.

Both of these initiatives support Plymouth City’s Council pledges to both reduce single use plastics and trial the use of a new sea-bin to collect plastics and other solid materials directly from the sea.

Roger Maslin, CEO of the National Marine Aquarium, said: “As a marine conservation and education charity our focus is to connect people with our Oceans. The Oceans are vitally important to the health of our planet and it is becoming increasingly important for people to understand the effects of plastics on them. It’s fantastic to see people making pro-Ocean behaviour changes and the increasing awareness of their responsibility to care for this vital resource. We are extremely proud of the achievement of a ‘plastic free waterfront’ and we are looking forward to playing our part in tackling the quantity of single use plastics used in Plymouth and further beyond.”

Sarah Gibson, Waterfront Manager and Chief Executive of the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership said: “Lewis Pugh’s high profile visit and inspiring words lend more weight to both the Plan for Plastics and the work we are doing with our partners to see whether Plymouth could be the UK’s first National Marine Park. This is an exciting time for Plymouth’s waterfront and we want to build on the momentum and support from the local community.”

Local swimmers get ready to swim with Lewis. Photo credit: Jason Kiely / One Plymouth

Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the University of Plymouth, said: “Plymouth is known all over the world for its research on marine litter, and it is fantastic to see the city taking such a proactive stance on this topic. One of the messages we always try to get across is that while this is a global problem, everyone has a part to play in helping to reduce the quantity of plastic waste they generate and to minimise the release of plastic to the ocean. The measures set out in this plan and the partners involved across the city help place Plymouth at the forefront, not just in terms of its research but also its actions to help stem the tide on plastic waste.”

For more information on Plan For Plastics, visit www.plymouth.gov.uk/plastics or search #PlasticsPledgePlym

You can find out more about the proposal for a National Marine Park here:

Plymouth got a high profile boost for both its Plan for Plastics and a potential bid for National Marine Park status when Lewis Pugh, UN Patron of the Oceans, stopped by in Britain’s Ocean City as part of The Long Swim.

Lewis, who was born in Plymouth but now lives in Africa, is swimming the full length of the English Channel, starting in Land’s End on Thursday 12 July and came to Plymouth on Friday 20 July. The Long Swim is part of a worldwide campaign entitled Action for Oceans, an initiative that is calling on governments to fully protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030. FXTM is the lead partner on the Long Swim and Speedo is the official partner.

During his visit to Plymouth, Lewis was welcomed with a special cream tea with Lord Mayor Councillor Sam Davey, a reception event at the National Marine Aquarium, a swimming event at Tinside hosted by Speedo, and an exhibition about The Long Swim at The Dome. The events were supported by a range of local partners from the Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce, a multi-agency partnership which aims to reduce single use plastics in Plymouth.

While he was in Plymouth, Lewis said: “Everything starts with education. We have to educate all water users about the health of our ocean. It’s now a race against time… not just to stop the damage, but to restore the health of our oceans. Plymouth is perfectly suited to lead the way.”

Lewis helps promote our Plan for Plastics and the reusable plastic cups.

In June 2018, Plymouth achieved Plastic Free Communities status for its historic waterfront, with more than 70 business pioneers and 50 community ambassadors in Plymouth including local businesses, schools and community groups, supported the city’s bid by pledging to reduce the amount of single use plastics they consume. The bid for the Surfers Against Sewage-approved status was led by Environment Plymouth but supported by the Plastics Taskforce. During June, reusable plastic cups and bottles were also launched to help reduce single use plastics in Plymouth, with more than 7,000 sales of the cups to date.

Councillor Sue Dann, Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene for Plymouth City Council, said: “All the partners on the Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce were delighted to welcome Lewis to Plymouth as part of The Long Swim. We know he is passionate about protecting our oceans and this is something we also feel very strongly about here in Plymouth. It was perfect timing for Plymouth as well, with our ongoing work to address plastic waste and plans to secure National Marine Park status for the city.

“Last month the Taskforce launched the new Plan for Plastics and since then there has been ongoing commitment to both reducing single use plastics and cutting down on plastic pollution. This includes litter picks, beach cleans, and the first ever Plastic Free Picnic. We were also really pleased for the city to achieve Plastic Free Waterfront status from Surfers Against Sewage, and we are now working towards Plastic Free City status.”

Penny Tarrant from Environment Plymouth with the Plan for Plastics display at the Lewis Pugh exhibition. Photo credit: Jason Kiely / One Plymouth

Environment Plymouth co-ordinator Jackie Young said “When we all met to discuss marine plastics last December, we could not have predicted how far we’d progress in such a short time and how much positive energy local communities would pour in to tackling plastic pollution. But here we are, seven months on and we are delighted to be working with the BOC Task Group to secure the extended Plastic Free Community status for the city. The action is ongoing. Only this weekend 22 paddlers from the Port of Plymouth Canoeing Association cleared 2.5km of the Sound’s inaccessible beaches and, with help from the Plymouth Beach Clean Volunteers filled nine huge bags of rubbish…the first Ambassadors led sea-clean.”

The Taskforce is now working on the four pillars of the Plan for Plastics – Avoid, Recycle, Innovate and Connect – to embed it across the city.

In addition, partners across Plymouth are working together with the aim of securing National Marine Park status and a conference was hosted in the city last month, hosted by the Blue Marine Foundation.

Both of these initiatives support Plymouth City’s Council pledges to both reduce single use plastics and trial the use of a new sea-bin to collect plastics and other solid materials directly from the sea.

Roger Maslin, CEO of the National Marine Aquarium, said: “As a marine conservation and education charity our focus is to connect people with our Oceans. The Oceans are vitally important to the health of our planet and it is becoming increasingly important for people to understand the effects of plastics on them. It’s fantastic to see people making pro-Ocean behaviour changes and the increasing awareness of their responsibility to care for this vital resource. We are extremely proud of the achievement of a ‘plastic free waterfront’ and we are looking forward to playing our part in tackling the quantity of single use plastics used in Plymouth and further beyond.”

Sarah Gibson, Waterfront Manager and Chief Executive of the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership said: “Lewis Pugh’s high profile visit and inspiring words lend more weight to both the Plan for Plastics and the work we are doing with our partners to see whether Plymouth could be the UK’s first National Marine Park. This is an exciting time for Plymouth’s waterfront and we want to build on the momentum and support from the local community.”

Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the University of Plymouth, said: “Plymouth is known all over the world for its research on marine litter, and it is fantastic to see the city taking such a proactive stance on this topic. One of the messages we always try to get across is that while this is a global problem, everyone has a part to play in helping to reduce the quantity of plastic waste they generate and to minimise the release of plastic to the ocean. The measures set out in this plan and the partners involved across the city help place Plymouth at the forefront, not just in terms of its research but also its actions to help stem the tide on plastic waste.”

Martin Attrill, Professor of Marine Ecology at the University of Plymouth, said: “Currently in the UK we have nothing within our marine environment that matches National Parks on land, and we feel it is time this changed. As Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth is the natural place to develop and test the first National Marine Park given the clean, biodiverse waters around the city, its long maritime heritage and commercial connections with the sea. A National Marine Park would provide a fantastic mechanism to engage people with the sea, with great health, wellbeing and economic benefits, whilst also demonstrating we value our UK marine environments and organisms as much as we do those on land.”

For more information on Plan For Plastics, visit www.plymouth.gov.uk/plastics or search #PlasticsPledgePlym

You can find out more about the proposal for a National Marine Park here

Notes to editors:

Through the Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce, organisations across Plymouth are working together to tackle the issue of single use plastics and plastic pollution. The following organisations are members of the Taskforce:

Babcock

Destination Plymouth

Environment Agency

Environment Plymouth

Marine Biological Association

National Marine Aquarium

Plymouth City Council

Plymouth Community Homes

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Plymouth Waterfront Partnership

Theatre Royal Plymouth

University of Plymouth