Brits are concerned about effects of marine pollution - new research

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 15 August 2018

A striking protest that hopes to give marine life a voice and initiate positive changes to protect the future of our rivers and oceans has been launched by the University of Hull.

Don't be Shellfish Campaign
© University of Hull

The University has creatively done something to raise awareness about a vital issue

Dr Chris Tuckett,
MCS Head of Programmes

As part of a wider campaign - Don’t Be Shellfish - a YouGov poll for the University has also carried out research that revealed Brits are concerned about the effect of marine pollution on both marine and human life.

Earlier this week, the Don’t Be Shellfish campaign saw a stretch of the Humber Estuary, in the shadow of the Humber Bridge in Hull, East Yorkshire, transformed into a picket line of slogan carrying placards planted in the water to highlight the challenges facing different types of marine life.

The placard protest, to highlight the new research, was made to look like it has been organised by marine life who had banded together to protest against the conditions in which they are forced to live and the threat this poses to their livelihood.

The poll found that more than 78% of people questioned in the YouGov poll want to reduce their use of single use plastic, 71% want a wider choice of plastic-free products and 92% said they’re concerned about the impact that plastic pollution will have on future generations. The poll also found that 81% of people questioned were concerned about the potential health implications of consuming seafood that contains microplastics

Dr Chris Tuckett, Director of Programmes at MCS says the campaign is both eye-catching and eye-opening and is an innovative way to raise awareness of the challenges facing our oceans: “The University has creatively done something to raise awareness about a vital issue, while at the same time revealing important findings. The research shows that people care about the challenges that marine life faces, and the potential negative ramifications for future human generations, we hope this initiative raises vital awareness and encourages others, including policymakers, to take meaningful action.”

Professor Dan Parsons, Director of the University of Hull’s Energy and Environment Institute, said: “The world is waking up to the negative impact that plastic pollution in particular is having on the marine environment. However, there is still a lack of awareness about what is happening beneath the surface of the water. Rising levels of acidity in our oceans is having a huge impact on marine life - comparable to a world without light and sound for us human beings - by disrupting the way that they communicate. Unless we take rapid action, the consequences for the marine ecosystem could be devastating.

“At the University of Hull, we’re rising to the challenge through our #DelveDeeper campaign which aims to highlight and help solve some of these major issues through our research and teaching in order to make a difference.”

In another recent piece of research, by the University, in partnership with Brunel University, microplastics and other debris were found in 100% of mussels sampled from around the UK coast, and those bought in supermarkets. A study between the University of Hull and the British Antarctic Survey has also revealed that levels of microplastics accumulating in the Antarctic – previously thought to be relatively free from plastic pollution – are much worse than expected.

For the last 24 years, volunteer beach cleaners, during the annual MCS Great British Beach Clean, have repeatedly found more tiny plastic and polystyrene bits per 100m cleaned and surveyed than any other material on UK beaches. In the last year microbeads in personal wash off products have been banned, many high street outlets have stopped giving out plastic straws and a consultation has been held on how a ‘plastic tax’ on single use throwaway items could work.

The 25th MCS Great British Beach Clean takes place between 14th -17th September 2018.

Actions you can take

Did you know?…

Every day millions of microplastics enter the sea from personal care products such as scrubs and toothpastes

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thought to be 6 times the size of the UK

Every year, volunteers give us over 1,000 days of their time