2014 has been an amazing year for Surfers Against Sewage with unprecedented levels of engagement for our environmental initiatives and campaigns. From marine litter to climate change, sewer overflow pollution to coastal development, the charity now covers more issues than ever before in its 25-year history. None of this would be possible without your support, the involvement of coastal communities nationwide, a dedicated team of Regional Reps, thousands of volunteers and the generosity of SAS members! Thank you all for making the year such a success, and here’s to an even greater 25th anniversary year in 2015!
Some of the highlights of 2014 include:
- The launch the Protect Our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in the Palace of Westminster, bringing together twenty-five MPs representing the majority of the UK’s key coastal communities, to address the most urgent environmental issues highlighted by the Protect Our Waves (POW) petition – marine litter, water quality and coastal development. This is the first ever APPG to specifically focus on protecting surfing habitats and was the result of over 55,000 surfers, environmentalists and recreational water users signing the POW petition – the biggest ever enviro-surf petition! This is an unprecedented platform for SAS to discuss urgent environmental threats and campaigns directly with politicians, business leaders, environmental experts and civil servants.
- The publication of our Marine Litter Report, setting out our vision to reduce UK beach litter by 50% by 2020. The report highlights the true scale of the marine litter crisis, the underlying causes of the issue and the threats marine litter poses to ecosystems, marine organisms and communities. The report also maps out practical and achievable solutions across industry, government and communities to increase action for much cleaner and safer beaches by 2020.
- The year of volunteering & SAS beach cleans! A massive 9,715 community volunteers took part in 335 SAS Beach Cleans around the UK removing a staggering 59,727 kilograms of marine litter from the UK coastline! The SAS Regional Reps programme reached even more locations nationwide, helping grassroots campaigns to protect waves, oceans, beaches and wildlife in more locations than ever before!
- As part of the Break The Bag Habit coalition, we successfully secured new legislation to massively reduce the number of single-use plastic bags given out and ending up in the environment. A new bag charge will come into force in October 2015 and is a proven mechanism to reduce the number of single-use bags given out by up to 90%! The new legislation was even mentioned in The Queen’s Speech – another first for Surfers Against Sewage!
- The Safer Seas Service expanded over 300 locations nationwide and protected the surfers and water users from over 1,500 separate pollution events at some of our favourite beaches. The Safer Seas Service is the UK’s only nationwide beach water quality service, alerting beach users in real-time when raw sewage discharges and diffuse pollution threatens the water quality at popular beaches across England and Wales. The service issued over 220,000 real-time alerts in 2014! The service also helps reassure beach users about their water quality in the absence of any alerts, the blue smiley face on the app indicating that the sea should be as clean as possible.
- We successfully launched a new partnership with the European Centre For the Environment & Human Health – University of Exeter to map out the health effects of marine pollution. We had thousands of water users responding to our surveys across the year and will be publishing the results in spring 2015. This will provide vital new background data to our ongoing water quality campaigns targeting sewer overflows and diffuse pollution.
- We expanded our community information initiatives, including creating 25 new Think Before You Flush Communities, installing 25 Seas For Life community information panels in coastal communities and reaching out to schools in Northern Ireland and North Devon with our Seas For Life schools programme.
- Internationally, Surfers Against Sewage was shortlisted as one of Surfer Magazine’s Agents of Change and was the first-ever European environmental charity to be selected as part of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association environmental awards programme.
These are just some of the highlights of 2014 and we were stoked to work with so many inspirational individuals, organisations, charities, sponsors, festivals and other partners to achieve so much. A huge thank you to everyone that got involved and we look forward to collaborating for an even bigger and better 2015 – our 25th anniversary year! We have big plans so watch this space!
Have a great end to the year and we look forward to seeing you in 2015!
A huge thank you to everyone that has helped make 2014 one of the best years ever for Surfers Against Sewage - volunteers, Regional Reps, charity partners, sponsors, members & supporters - you've all been fantastic. Here's to an even bigger and better 2015 protecting waves, oceans and beaches for everyone!
Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive, SAS