24 August 2012
Olympic windsurfer silver medallist Nick Dempsey is working with Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership, to keep the coast and inshore waters litter free.
Natural England is part of the partnership, which is running a local campaign called ‘Litter Free Coast and Sea’ aimed at enhancing the beauty of Dorset’s coastline by creating cleaner beaches for its recreational sea users, and healthier seas for its diverse marine wildlife.
Nick threw his windsurfing weight behind the campaign soon after winning his Olympic medal, when he posed with a windsurf made from marine and beach litter to raise awareness of the extent to which rubbish is polluting the natural environment. Bottle tops, plastic bags, fishing rope, bottles and cans – many of which were found on nearby beaches by Dorset schoolchildren – have been woven into a life-size sculpture of a windsurf. The sculpture – commissioned by the Partnership – is on display at the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre.
Nick Dempsey, who has been on beach cleans before, said he always feels really good once he has completed the task. He observed: “It is amazing how quickly the bags fill up with the litter.” Whether discarded deliberately or brought into the sea indirectly, rubbish can take a long time to break down once it is in the marine environment. The aim of ‘Litter Free Coast and Sea’ is to reduce the amount of beach and sea litter from the outset by explaining the negative impacts that rubbish can have on people and undersea wildlife and habitats – and asking people to change their behaviour. Nick Dempsey added: “I think that everyone has done a great job creating this sculpture, and this is a fantastic campaign.”
The rich diversity of marine wildlife and habitats in Weymouth Bay – set to benefit from cleaner, litter free waters – is now being showcased to visitors, local people and sailors alike, thanks to Natural England’s Quick Response (QR) smartphone pilot project. Scanning the barcodes – found on a colourful information display board in the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, and attached to fingerposts around Weymouth Bay – using a smartphone, gives people unprecedented access to mapping information about the local marine world, and demonstrates that ‘out of sight’ doesn’t need to be ‘out of mind’. The QR barcodes use data from an undersea mapping project carried out by Dorset Wildlife Trust, combined with Natural England’s marine conservation expertise, and are part of a series of natural environment legacy projects inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership is made up of: Dorset Coast Forum, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site Partnership, Natural England, RSPB, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, Wild About Weymouth, and Portland and Dorset Countryside. The Partnership’s aim is to encourage the public to discover, enjoy and help conserve the local natural environment; and to enable better access through new interactive centres, walks, talks and water-based activities.
Marine and beach litter (dorsetforyou.com)