Our mission & values

At Surfers Against Sewage, our purpose is crystal clear.

We’re here to unite, empower and support individuals to protect the ocean and all it makes possible. And we do that in all sorts of ways.

Ocean health is vital to all of us, wherever we live. The food we eat and the water we drink. The places we work and play. The weather around us. The climate we depend on. Even the air we breathe. Society has been shaped by a healthy and stable ocean. For people to continue to thrive and live life to the fullest, the ocean must thrive too. The planet is at a tipping point, and change is needed. Now.

We have a vision that shapes everything we do. Thriving Ocean, Thriving People. A virtuous circle for a better world. It’s big. And challenging. But we know how to get there – by continuing to create Ocean Activists everywhere, so we can connect action on the ground with change at the top.

Where’s ‘everywhere’?

Change can’t happen without people power. As a campaigning organisation, we know building a passionate community of ocean lovers – who are willing to take a stand in whatever way they can – is the key to turning the tide.

For us, ‘everywhere’ isn’t just the places people live, but the worlds in which they operate. Schools. Businesses. Universities. Clubs. Factories. Boardrooms. Parliaments. Armchairs. Desktops. Beaches. Riverbanks. Pavements. We’re on a mission to engage all spheres of influence on a micro and macro level. And from paddle-outs to petitions, policy to protest, we’re making everywhere count.

Whether it’s shorelines or city streets, river banks or front benches, we’re working together to create a groundswell of change.

Want to join us?

We’re here because of the ocean. Let’s fight for it.

Why do we do it?

We love the water. For what it does and how it makes us feel. We know that for people to thrive, the ocean has to thrive too – and vice versa. And we only have a few years left to tackle the near-irreversible damage that’s destroying ocean environments. This is the Ocean Decade. It’s time to act.

Surfers Against Sewage started 30 years ago; a group of water lovers fighting back to clean up the sea so we could stop getting sick. As we campaigned we started getting wiser about the full scope of pollution, waste, destruction and rising temperatures that are damaging the ocean that so many of us love, and that all of us rely on. So we started rising up on more issues, bringing together more people, and using our collective power to drive change.

Today we are still a group of water lovers fighting back, it’s just that now there’s more of us, with more corners to fight.

Our values

They guide us in every action we take. They define who we are, how we see things, what we do, and how we do it.


We’re passionate, down to earth campaigners with a deep, unrelenting love of the ocean. We believe in building diverse, inclusive and active communities. 


We’re human, doing our best for the ocean that we all love and rely on. When we don’t get things right, we learn from it. We believe in authenticity. You can’t fake trust.


We’re creative risk-takers, willing to disrupt the status quo and show how being different makes a difference. We have edge and energy that we put to use, pushing back against norms and pushing forward a counterview of what’s possible for our planet.


We’re active, energetic doers. From the beachfront to the frontbench, we bring people together, empowering them to get stuck in and make real change happen.


We’re serious, experienced, rigorous, determined and dedicated. We know the impact of people power and how our actions on the ground, and at the top, make a difference. 

Here are some of the key ways we’re making waves…

  • 1.


    By rallying ocean-loving individuals to get involved in campaigns and actions to protect the ocean and all it makes possible.

  • 2.


    By engaging them on issues affecting the ocean, people and planet, and lobbying for policies and laws that will create cleaner and safer marine environments for everyone.

  • 3.


    By opening people’s eyes to ocean issues, and sharing easy, sustainable ways they can help.

  • 4.


    By holding big business to account, encouraging them to make better choices, raise standards and take responsibility for the future of the ocean and the planet.

How has our work made a difference?

  • 98.5%

    Bathing Waters at Minimum Standards

    The percentage of England's bathing waters that passed the Bathing Water Directive's minimum standards in 2016, up from 27% in 1990 (but there’s still work to do).

  • 6 million

    Supporters Campaigning for Plastic Bag Charge

    The number of Surfers Against Sewage supporters that helped campaign for the plastic bag charge.

  • 6 billion

    Plastic Bags Prevented

    The number of plastic bags that have been prevented from damaging marine environments (but plastic pollution still needs fighting).

  • 1st

    The Surfers Against Sewage Community

    Our beach clean volunteer community is the largest in the UK.