Surfers Against Sewage takes ocean conservation strategy to Parliament

written by Oceanographic Staff

To celebrate World Environment Day, the Ocean Conservation APPG and Surfers Against Sewage shared their message at Westminster.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) campaigners started the day by placing the 15-foot and much-loved ‘creature’ from their recent campaign film outside Parliament, swathed in plastic waste, to bring the brutal reality of ocean pollution home for passing MPs. The ‘sea creature’ acts as an indication of the alarming amount of pressure that we continue to place on our oceans.

The message was clear – those in power are not taking enough responsibility for the climate crisis and urgent action is needed before we destroy more of what is yet to be discovered.


Speaking later at the Ocean Conservation APPG (all-party parliamentary group) event, St Austell and Newquay MP and Chair of the group Steven Double said: “Plastic pollution, global heating and over-exploitation are wreaking havoc on the marine life and the ecosystem that it supports. But progress is being made.”

This progression is significant. In 1990, just 27% of UK beaches would have passed the minimum European standards. However, in 2019, 98% of UK beaches are passing the same standard. Recent and high-profile changes, such as the 5p plastic bag charge has had a significant impact. This move has prevented approximately 15 billion single use plastic bags from entering the environment.

“The next few years are going to be critical,” Double added. “We need to keep this momentum going. We need to push forward to see real change.”


The event marked the launch of the draft Ocean Conservation APPG strategy paper, which outlines their key aims for the next three years. The group will focus initially on raising awareness and demonstrating viable solutions for plastic pollution, water quality, Marine Protected Areas and the climate crisis.

The SAS campaign film was played at the event, after which biologist and BBC presenter Professor Alice Roberts and 13-year old #GenerationSea activist Jaz Strzelecki both shared their stories of ocean conservation and plastic pollution.

“This [The Creature] isn’t merely a creative concept to support ocean conservation but a reflection on the stark reality of the peril our ocean faces. Just a week after we released the film, explorers discovered new, never before seen marine life alongside plastic pollution, the the deepest, darkest, parts of our oceans,” said Hugo Tagholm, co-founder and CEO of SAS. “The Government is responsible for the health and wellbeing of our oceans, our rivers, our mountains, our beaches and all of our environment and we’ve seen the effectiveness of parliamentary law in protecting them.”


Despite recent progress, Tagholm highlighted how far the UK has to go. As of May this year, the UK has met just four out of 15 indicators of healthy oceans.

Surfers Against Sewage are urging the general public to voice their concerns to their local MP, in the hope that social pressure will induce faster action on global heating, plastic pollution and ensuring that Marine Protected Areas are conserved properly and irreversibly.

“The climate emergency is upon us. The plastic pollution crisis is real. The pressures on marine life are unprecedented,” Tagholm concluded.

Photographs courtesy of Kerry McCarthy MP and Plastic Free Hastings via Facebook.

For more from our Ocean Newsroom, click here.


Current issue

Back issues

Enjoy so much more from Oceanographic Magazine by becoming a subscriber.
A range of subscription options are available.