Category Archives: Our Voice

Plastic Ocean Festival

Sink or swim? A global issue at home in London

www.plasticoceanfestival.com

 

Plastic pollution in the oceans is a growing, global problem but it can also be found right here at home in London in our own waterways.

The Plastic Ocean Festival aims to promote public awareness and to understand the damaging effects of plastic pollution in our waterways and oceans; encourage individual and group action to refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle plastic by starting at home in London. 

To do this it showcases a series of free public events from April to September 2017 in London incorporating stand up paddleboarding and waterway clean-ups with screenings of documentary films and discussions from scientists.

It has been organised by the London based watersports group, Active 360, the NGO’s Watertrek and the Plastic Oceans Foundation (UK), as well as scientists at Brunel University London.

 

Their approach

Stand up paddleboarding allows participants to try something new under the supervision of qualified instructors and to have fun on the water. It is also an opportunity for them to see the impact of plastic litter and its presence in our waterways for themselves. 

“Paddle and pick”, gives paddleboarders the chance to contribute to the cleaning up of our waterways. They can also be involved in some citizen science by helping categorise all the litter collected to determine what the top offenders are.

At the last three events 760, 580 and 195 pieces of litter were recovered, mostly plastic from the Paddington arm of the canal. Plastic food packaging was the most prevalent kind of litter but some more curious items, such as an inflatable horses were found!

 

 

Award-winning documentary screenings provide an overview and further examples to provide audiences with a more in depth understanding of the issue. These are used as a platform to generate discussions with scientists working in this research area, and provide opportunities for the public to ask questions and voice their opinions on this important global issue.

 

The films

North of the Sun (45 mins)

A story about following the dream. Two Norwegians spend the cold winter on an isolated, uninhabited bay of an Arctic island facing nothing but the vast Atlantic Ocean and living in a cabin that they built from driftwood and the marine litter washed up there. They bring with them two items of the utmost importance: their surfboards. 

View the trailer here.

 

Sky News’s A Plastic Whale (46 mins)

The report, part of Sky News’s Ocean Rescue initiative, follows the story of a Cuvier’s beaked whale that stranded near Bergen, Norway. It was found to contain 30 large pieces of plastic inside its stomach. The report investigates the problem of marine plastics and the threat it poses to these iconic animals; how communities have responded to their Plastic Whale and whether this sad case can help us find a solution.

View the trailer here.

 

Headliner: A Plastic Ocean (99 mins)

It has been described by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the most important films of our time“. A Plastic Ocean is a global adventure following a filmmaker and world record free-diver as they travel the Earth discovering the shocking impact that our unsustainable consumption of plastic is having on our oceans and wildlife. Their journey leads them through waste dumps, deep seas and remote islands to make unusual discoveries, reveal shocking truths and discuss important solutions to one of the biggest problems confronting mankind. 

View the trailer here.


 

Click here to view information about the upcoming event on the 18th July at Merchant Square, Paddington. 

Contaminated Sediment in Wandsworth – When Testing Pays Off

Removal of the Wandle half-tide weir

 

A recent article in Dredging and Port Construction reported that silt build-up over 25 years at the Wandle tidal weir in Wandsworth was not only affecting the habitat for fish and wildlife but also a peaceful, open area for the public.

 

With backing from the Environment Agency, Marine Management Organisation, Port of London Authority and Wandsworth Borough Council, Thames Water has removed the tidal weir, sludge and silt.

 

This is part of its improvement work to offset the impact of construction of the Tideway tunnel.  The tunnel is a major new sewer that will help tackle the problem of overflow from the capital’s Victorian sewers and will protect the River Thames.

 

The weir site had been classed as fully contaminated but new testing using amphibious craft by Land &Water (a specialist dredging and remediation organisation and a TEP member) revealed that 85% of the material was non-hazardous. This totally changed the way the project was handled.

 

The clean dredged material was transported by barge to Land &Water’s site at Rainham Marshes in Essex, formerly a military firing range and now a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest.

 

The hazardous material was segregated and sent to a hazardous waste treatment centre in Cambridgeshire, thus minimising the environmental impact of transport for disposal. The reclassification also considerably reduced the financial impact.

 

Source: Slinn, Tony. 2017, Contaminated sediment- when testing pays off.  Dredging and Port Construction.   

 

 

Successful TEP Summer Networking Event

Pat Fitzsimons, Director TEP, with the Doggett’s Coat and Badge winners

 

Over 200 people, including members and stakeholders, enjoyed the summer networking event held in the beautiful Fishmongers’ Banqueting Hall on 20th June.

 

The Doggett’s Coat and Badge winners- winners of the oldest rowing race in the world – greeted guests.

 

Anusha Shah, TEP’s new Chair, awarded TEP’s first fellowship to Andy Mitchell, CEO of Tideway, for his company’s commitment to making the Thames a sustainable example to the world. In addition to building the Tideway Tunnel, a new sewer to prevent untreated sewage overflowing into the Thames, Tideway will also open up new areas for the public to enjoy the river. 

TEP Chair, Anusha presenting Andy Mitchell

 

Anusha also took the opportunity to recognise the contribution of two of TEP’s former trustees – Victor Freeney and Nigel Challis.

 

Other speakers were Martin Baggs, Client Director for Water Utilities Market and  Chris Baines, TEP President, who described TEP’s work and showed a clip from our upcoming documentary featuring Sir David Attenborough – The Living Thames.   

 

Guests networking in the Fishmongers’ Banqueting Hall

People from a wide range of sectors attended and it was a great opportunity to connect with old acquaintances and to explore new business opportunities.  

 

Visit here to find out more about the benefits of becoming a member. 

Latest London Natural History Society newsletter

The London Natural History Society’s latest newsletter included the following reports:

Butterflies of the London Atlas project – a request for volunteers to record and/or photograph butterflies especially single-brooded species that fly only a few weeks a year.

London fungi: yearly review 2016 – a report on the species recorded in the capital in 2016 including the Great Haringey Fungus Foray on 30 October where about 20 people spotted 108 species.

There was a report of outings on 18 February entitled Early Spring at Wimbledon Common. On 25 February 2017 there was the New Cross Gate and Nunhead report.On 8 April the Lesnes Abbey Woods report t identified and record local flora.

Wimbledon Common for lichens re-visited commented on the findings of a meeting on 4 March, exploring a new area of the site seen on a previous visit on 1 October 2016.

The publication had two ornithology reports: Greenwich Peninsular and Ecology Park which saw all five species of gull and a confrontation between a peregrine and a red kite overhead. Crossness was a report on a walk which recorded seven species of butterfly as well water fowl and other birds.

For more information see the LNHS website www.lnhs.org.uk

 

 

Review – London Bird Report 2015

 

The London Report 2015, produced by the London Natural History Society, has everything you might want to know about a year of bird life in London. The book is well produced, illustrated by good, full colour photographs of birds.

Nick Rutter, the editor of the London Naturalist, reviews 2015, listing verified sightings of rare and less common birds, and commenting on migrants, residents and breeding activity. For example there were two verified breeding pairs of Red Kites. The report also contains highlights for each month.

A substantial section of the volume is devoted to a report of the species spotted within 20 miles of St Paul’s Cathedral. Approaching 2,000 people contributed to this systematic list.  It includes reports from the 2015 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.

It contains nine papers about birds in London from a variety of contributors.  The topics covered range from a Ringing Report to ‘The rise and fall of the Ruddy Duck in the London Area’, and ‘Can Common Terns and Black-Headed gulls co-exist on rafts?’

Extracts from some of these can be found in the publications section of the Society’s website.

This is the 80th annual report and so comparisons can be made about which species are flourishing and which are declining over time.  For example, the Peregrine Falcon is a ‘scarce but increasingly regular breeding resident and winter visitor’.  There were four pairs present in 2004 rising to 25 in 2015, of which 16 were successful with 47 juveniles fledged.

This forms an important record of one facet of the wildlife inhabiting our capital city.

Published May 2017 by the London Natural History Society – £8.00. Free to members of the Society.

www.lnhs.org.uk

Catherine Quinn.

New Thames Museum Wants To Change How We View History

The Thames Museum is in its early stage of conceptualisation but its founders want to create an iconic museum/visitors centre dedicated entirely to the archaeology of the River Thames, telling the story of life on the river through the ages. The range of artifacts within the museum collections will cover the entire life span of the River Thames – including fossils from prehistory, London’s early human inhabitants, the Roman occupation and the following two thousand years up until  the present day.

 

The visionaries behind the project, Steve Brooker and Nick Stevens, have their own vast collections of artifacts recovered from the River Thames over 25 years which they plan to donate. The museum will also be able to use finds recovered over the last 50 years from fellow mudlarks. 

Steve Brooker and Nick Stevens

 

Visitors will be offered an accessible, friendly and memorable experience based not only on the collections but also on the interior design and layout.  The museum’s displays will be set amongst re-creations of timber wharfs, sections of river wall, 17th century warehouses and other examples of London’s historical waterside.

 

Collections will constantly change and new exhibits will be added regularly as new finds are made on an almost daily basis.  Information on new finds will become a key part of the museum’s social media strategy to spread the word. This should result in a museum that is forever changing and one that will be different every time it is visited. One visit will not be enough.

 

During the 18th and 19th centuries many of London’s poor would search the riverbanks for anything of value. These original “mudlarks” were often children, mostly boys, who could earn a few pennies selling the coal, nails, rope and bones that they found in the mud at low tide. As London was a busy port, things were often dropped in the water and cargo sometimes fell off passing boats. Unfortunately a mudlark’s income was generally meagre.

 

In contrast today’s mudlarks have a passionate interest in London’s rich archaeology.  They have changed history many, many times and work very closely with the Museum Of London and P.A.S (the Portable Antiquities Scheme) where their finds are recorded and often displayed.

 

As well as creating a fantastic and original new museum for London we want to share our passion for history in order to inspire, enthuse and inform a younger generation” say the founders.

 

The museum plans to offer educational trips to the foreshore to schools and other educational bodies.

 

For more information please visit www.thamesmuseum.org

Link found between microplastic pollution & fish larvae ingestion

According to the website Environmental Pollution (June 2017), a study took place between April and June 2016 in the western English Channel which was designed to assess the occurrence of microplastic ingestion in wild fish larvae.

The study provided baseline ecological data showing a correlation between waterborne microplastics and the incidence of ingestion in fish larvae.

This is an important finding because of the links between microplastics and other organic pollutants that can enter the food chain.

Microplastics have been documented in marine environments worldwide where they pose a potential risk to living organisms.

 

Coastal shelf seas are rich in productivity but also experience high levels of microplastic pollution. In these habitats fish have an important ecological and economic role but their larvae are vulnerable to pollution, environmental stress and predation.

The study took fish larvae and water samples across three sites – at 10, 19 and 35 km from the shore – in the western English Channel from April to June 2016.

Key findings were:

2.9% of fish larvae had ingested microplastics, of which 66% were blue fibres; ingested microfibers closely resembled those identified within water samples.

Further away from the coast larval fish density increased significantly while waterborne microplastic concentrations and incidence of ingestion decreased.

Click here to see more

 

Other research has shown that we are experiencing large quantities of plastic waste in all our aquatic systems. The Thames has been particularly effected, partly because so many people live along its banks and partly because the current sewer system is not able to cope.

Many animals have been shown to ingest plastic and microplastics can be eaten by almost anything.  Plastics can leach dangerous chemicals into whatever has eaten them thereby entering the food chain. This could have important implications for the fishing industry on the Thames. 

 

ZSL guidance for fish conservation in the tidal Thames

The Zoological Society London (ZSL) has published Conservation of Tidal Thames Fish Through the Planning Process, a guide to help improve fish conservation for planners, developers and stakeholders in  the tidal Thames,. The area encompasses all Local Authority areas adjoining the river Thames between Teddington Lock (where the Thames ceases to be tidal), and Gravesend.

ZSL presented to developers at a Thames Estuary Partnership event in May 2017: “The Evolution of the Estuary: an update on Key Projects”. ZSL presented four major projects at planning stage at Farrells’s offices in London at that time:

  •       The Castle Green regeneration project at Barking, a Chinese-backed scheme by an Australian listed investment company ASF Group, with a plan for a 90 hectare re-routing the A13 trunk road in a 1.3km. cut-and-cover tunnel, improving north-south access to Barking riverside;
  •        The Royal Albert Dock development by Chinese developer ABP as a new business district providing a trading base for Chinese commerce, with a vision of an end-to-end rail service between London and China.
  •       The London Paramount Entertainment Resort development at the Swanscombe peninsula, supported by the Kuwaiti Sovereign Wealth Fund, and connecting to the international rail service at Ebbsfleet.
  •        A new port at Tilbury being developed by Forth Ports with a plan to provide a centre for the distribution of construction materials by river and sea.

The ZSL guidance provides links to sources of information, regulations, strategies and local plans. One such source is the Tidal Thames Habitat Action Plan, developed by the Thames Estuary Partnership Biodiversity Action Group as input to the London Biodiversity Action Plan.

The Tidal Thames is of ecological importance as a route for migratory fish to move between freshwater and salt water and vice versa.

  • It is a rich foraging ground for fish, including certain species that live exclusively in the Thames;
  • It is a territory for fish to spawn and young fish to grow.

All development operations and decommissioning along the Thames could disturb fish in the Thames, including light and water pollution, sound/vibration, change of water temperature or sediment deposit or suspension and local changes to water flow.

The area between Teddington and Gravesend is:

  • A route for migratory fish to move between freshwater and salt water and vice versa. It is a rich foraging ground for fish.
  • A territory for fish to spawn and young fish to grow.
  • And it harbours 124 fish species caught in the tidal Thames since 1964, 15% of which are protected by regulations.

All development. operations and decommissioning along the Thames could upset fish life in the Thames. For example it could affect light and water pollution, sound/vibration, change of water temperature or sediment deposit or suspension and local changes to water flow.

The guidance’s main message is that the nature and the duration of the work required relies on the sensitivity of the design of the development, and scheduling of the process.

The report emphasised that the effect of the works on fish had to be considered in the planning and development process. The report commented that “permanent loss of inter-tidal and/or sub-tidal habitats should be avoided.”

The report said that specific steps were needed:

  • A baseline survey.
  • Scheduling works to avoid “ecological events” for fish (e.g. migration)
  • Create additional or replacement foreshore habitat, modify surfaces in contact with the river (walls, piers, piles).
  • Design sustainable drainage systems.
  • Reduce  environmental impact during works (control of sedimentation change, vibration, run-off).

Zoological Society of London (ZSL) 2017: guidance document – Conservation of Tidal Thames Fish through the Planning Process.

Available online:https://www.zsl.org/sites/default/files/media/2017-01/Tidal%20Thames%20Fish%20Guidance%20Document%202017.pdf

 

Frank Water Stops Selling Single Use PET Bottles and Launches ‘Pledge to Refill’ Campaign

 

FRANK Water has stopped selling spring water in single use plastic bottles. Frank claims they are the first UK bottled water company to end sales of single-use plastic bottles and switch to 100% environmentally sustainable solutions.

To mark the milestone, they have launched the #PledgeToRefill campaign, calling on consumers to carry a refillable water bottle with them to stay hydrated without the need to purchase water (or other drinks) in single-use plastic bottles.

There are several ways you can get involved including making the pledge! Visit frankwater.com/refill and #PledgeToRefill. They will receive bonus funding (£1 per pledge) from their partners for the first 500 pledges!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteers Needed to Collect For Seafarers’ Day on 29 June

Every day we expect fishermen to risk their lives to catch our seafood, the Royal Navy to defend our shores and Merchant Seamen to battle storms to deliver 95% of our imported goods. 

As part of the Annual Seafarers Awareness Week (24-30 June) Seafarers UK is organising a national fundraising and awareness-raising day and needs volunteers to get involved.

Seafarers UK is a charity that gives grants to organisations and projects that make a real difference to people’s lives, across the Merchant Navy, Fishing Fleets, Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Last year it gave grants totalling £2.5million to 69 maritime welfare charities.

Seafarers will build on the success of their fundraising efforts in 2016 to conduct bucket collections in train stations, shopping centres, ferry ports and anywhere else their supporters are allowed to collect.  This is a great opportunity to get out and about in local communities to remind everyone of how much our island nation depends on our seafarers. 

Find out more about how you can help raise awareness and funds on 29 June.