Sewage is destroying UK beaches

SAS are pleased to hear the European Commission (EC) has decided to take the United Kingdom to the European Court of Justice over non-compliance with EU environment legislation.  SAS has spent the summer highlighting the inadequacies of the UK’s sewerage system, specifically with Combine Sewage and Stormwater Overflow drains (CSOs), culminating in the hard-hitting Panorama programme “Britain’s Dirty Beaches”.  The EC is concerned that the urban waste water collecting systems and treatment facilities in London and Whitburn in North East England and have deemed them “inadequate and a threat to human health.”

SAS have highlighted time and again concerns over the short-term pollution impacts CSOs have on our coastline, and stressed the potential impacts to water users and especially waveriders who are more at risk as they immerse and ingest more than the average bather.  Some of the health risks associated with using sewage polluted waters include Ecoli, Hepatitis A, Gastro Enteritis and much more. 

Our rivers, seas, bathing waters and surf spots are suffering from short-term pollution incidents from CSOs.  The sewerage system is being over powered by the volume of water after periods of rain.  There are solutions that can take the pressure off the sewerage system without relying on CSOs or resulting in sewage backing up in our homes.  They include improvements in the efficiency of the sewerage system and/or an increase in capacity at sewage treatment works.  Local planners need to embrace and promote Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) that slowly release surface rainwater runoff.  And we can all use water more responsibly, taking small steps like turning the tap off whilst brushing our teeth, which will in effect increase capacity at sewage treatment works reducing the risk of overflow.

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Sea Shepherd

A mid-ocean rendezvous between the participants of the Transparentsea environmental awareness initiative and the crew of the Sea Shepherd’s Steve Irwin took place offshore from the Northern NSW town of Yamba on the weekend.

The Transparentsea paddlers, who are making their way to Sydney from Byron Bay over a 36-day period to draw attention to the plight of the humpback whales and coastal pollution issues, battled fierce southerly winds and rising swells to greet the boat’s crew as they sat anchored about two kilometers out from the entrance to the Clarence River.

The trimaran sea kayaks being used by the paddlers were dwarfed by the size of the Steve Irwin that will dock in Sydney until October 12th, before leaving for Perth and then the Southern Ocean to officially commence its whale fighting campaign in December.

Irwin Captain Alex Cornelissen and his crew had hot cups of tea waiting for campaigners Chris Del Moro (San Diego, USA), Will Conner (Byron Bay, AUS), Surfrider Foundation GM Kristy Theissling (Coolangatta, AUS) and Dave Rastovich (Brunswick Heads, AUS) who each hauled themselves from the rough sea up a rope ladder to climb aboard.

Captain Cornelissen was appreciative of the efforts of the Transparentsea team who share the vision of the Sea Shepherd Organisation and hinted at what lay in store for the Japanese whale ‘researchers’ come December.

“If we get the opportunity to meet up with a Sea Shepherd crew member who is doing a lot of great stuff then of course, we’re not going to let that pass,” said Captain Cornelissen, referring to Rastovich’s participation in the Galapagos Islands in 2007.

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Transparent Voyage

A large crowd of well-wishers gathered on Byron Bay’s Main Beach this morning to show their support for five daring environmental campaigners who have begun a 36 day voyage by sea to Sydney to highlight the plight of migrating humpback whales and to draw awareness to coastal pollution issues.

Dubbed “Transparentsea”, the odyssey is an initiative of professional surfer Dave Rastovich, an environmental crusader who is joined on his quest by Californian surfer and artist Chris Del Moro (San Diego, CA, USA), Musician Will Conner (AUS), Photographer Hilton Dawe (Byron Bay, NSW, AUS) and Surfrider Foundation’s Kristy Theissling (Coolangatta, QLD, AUS).

Paddling single-seat “trimaran” sea kayaks, the participants will use only the wind and the waves to assist them on their journey, as they trace the migration paths of the whales destined for the Southern Ocean.

During their frequent stops along the East Coast, the team will also engage local communities to assist in beach clean-ups, as well as highlighting and recording other areas of environmental concern including the effects of the commercial fishing industry on marine mammals and fish stocks; run-off issues to do with agricultural, domestic and industrial human activities; and the state of rivers and estuaries.
“It’s a great honour to be here from California representing such a great cause and the organisation Surfers for Cetaceans,” said Del Moro.

“I’m just stoked to see Australians have such an incredible support for environmental issues, especially water and ocean related issues and the fight against whaling and dolphin hunts. In the States we have a lot of people who are really fired up, but here it seems like whole communities are coming out. Everyone’s really given us their support; it feels like a lot of people are really backing it (Transparentsea). It excites me to think we’ll be at sea with these amazing creatures, it’s going to be life changing,” he added.

A fresh northerly wind and swell provided the paddlers with the perfect start, and by the end of day one, they hope to have reached Evans Head, some 60 kilometers south, before a planned rendezvous with Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd and his ship, the “Steve Irwin” in the vicinity of Yamba this weekend.

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