Image credit: Andy Hughes

Surfers Against Sewage campaigners call for urgent and innovative new measures to rid the UK coastline of marine litter. The Marine Litter Report sounds the alarm for the UK’s trashed tidelines, highlighting the environmental impacts on marine ecosystems and wildlife, and the unaffordable costs to industries including fisheries and tourism.

Surfers Against Sewage has launched a crucial new environmental report calling for a 50% reduction in UK beach litter by 2020. The Marine Litter Report, launched this week at SAS’s inaugural Protect Our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group, highlights the scale of the marine litter crisis and suggests radical new measures to stem the flow of litter to our oceans, waves and beaches. The report calls for cohesive and effective anti-marine litter measures from all sections of society including community action, increased company responsibility and new government legislation.

Hugo Tagholm, SAS Chief Executive says: “Marine litter is one of the biggest threats to the health of our precious marine environment and it’s vital that we ramp up our collective actions to combat the crisis. Surfers Against Sewage’s Marine Litter Report maps out radical, yet tried and tested, new measures that can deliver a cleaner, greener coastline by 2020. Cutting off the flow of marine litter at source is critical to our vision to stop plastic and other debris from polluting our beaches.”

Surfers Against Sewage suggests innovative new initiatives to stop marine litter at source, including implementing smoking bans on beaches, introducing prominent environmental health warnings on single-use packaging, reinstating container deposit schemes and better enforcing fines for littering along our coastline. The report also calls on the public to refuse single-use plastic products where possible and for industry to be more accountable for the full lifecycle of packaging and products through extended producer responsibility schemes.

The launch of the SAS’s Marine Litter Report is specifically timed to coincide with Europe’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which requires the UK to put in place measures to achieve or maintain ‘Good Environmental Status’ (GES) for our oceans and beaches by 2020. Marine litter will be a key indicator of the health of our coastline during this period. The MSFD timetable requires the UK Government to adopt additional measures and actions by 2015 to implement by 2016. SAS hopes that ambitious new recommendations from its Marine Litter Report will be adopted and implemented as part of increasing efforts to tackle UK beach litter. The report was presented to George Eustice MP, Minister at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for consideration at SAS’s inaugural All Party Parliamentary Group.

The Marine Litter Report sounds the alarm for the UK’s trashed tidelines, highlighting the environmental impacts on marine ecosystems and wildlife, and the unaffordable costs to industries including fisheries and tourism. This report presents new strategies and measures across government, industry and the public that could be explored and implemented to surpass the UK’s current MSFD targets with an aim to reduce beach litter by 50% by 2020.

  • Approximately 8 million individual items of litter enter the sea every day.
  • The amount of beach litter in the UK has doubled in the last 20 years.
  • 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles die annually from ingestion of, and entanglement in marine litter.
  • Local Authorities in the UK spend £18 million annually removing beach litter.
  • Surfers Against Sewage aims to inspire 25,000 beach clean volunteers annually by 2020

Surfers Against Sewage’s Marine Litter Report is calling for radical measures including:

Personal Behavioural Changes including refusing single-use plastics, increasing community beach clean activities and encouraging communities to take legal action against irresponsible landowners.

Industry innovation including introducing extended producer responsibility initiatives, reinstating container deposit schemes and removing plastic components from all sanitary products.

New legislation banning smoking on key beaches, banning balloon releases, introducing prominent environmental health warnings on single-use packaging and enforcing fines for littering at beaches.

Download the full report HERE.

Thanks to The Crown Estate and World Animal Protection for their support in producing the Marine Litter Report.



Gary Thompson, Coastal and Stewardship Manger at The Crown Estate

The Crown Estate is pleased to have funded the preparation and production of the Surfers Against Sewage ‘Marine Litter Report’ in helping protect, and sustainably manage, the marine environment. Our Marine Stewardship Fund seeks to provide funding for projects such as this that broaden our understanding of the environment and the impact we have on it as well as helping to enhance the marine and coastal assets that we manage for the benefit of the nation.

Alyx Elliott, Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection

For too long, the sea has been treated as a convenient expanse into which rubbish can be effectively lost. We’ve become too content to believe that the Oceans somehow look after themselves, and silently swallow up all we throw at them. Meanwhile the seabed has become choked with dumped, abandoned or lost fishing gear resulting in the killing or harming of thousands of marine mammals that get entangled in them every year – dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals, and leatherback turtles as well as seabirds. Surfers Against Sewage Marine Litter report makes an urgent case for action in what is increasingly becoming a recognised problem in the UK. We are proud to support them on this initiative.