South Tyneside businesses urged to make 'Motion for the Ocean' pledge

Businesses in South Tyneside are being urged to sign up to a ‘Motion for the Ocean’ pledging to help keep the seas clean and safe for people and animals.

Sandhaven Beach, which regained its Blue Flag for 2022.
Sandhaven Beach, which regained its Blue Flag for 2022.

The motion, set out by South Tyneside Council, recognises the importance of the ocean in the fight against climate change and the role that local, and national government, can play in helping to protect it.

It came as this week saw the marking of World Ocean Day– a global campaign urging people everywhere to unite, celebrate and take action.

Council chiefs said businesses in the borough are urged to get involved where they can, such as:

South Tyneside Council Cllr Ernest Gibson.

:: Ending the use of balloons for any promotion and avoiding involvement in balloon releases.

:: Reducing single-use items such as plastic knives and forks.

:: Rewarding customers, such as providing them with an incentive if they bring their own reusable containers or cutlery.

:: Picking up litter in and around their business.

Green Party councillor David Francis

:: Encouraging or supporting community activities such as litter picks.

:: Reducing their carbon footprint.

:: Ensuring that the correct items go down the drain – no cooking fat, wet wipes, or other items.

:: Selling only sustainable seafood, ideally caught locally and in season.

Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Transport and Area Management on South Tyneside Council, is also chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Coastal Special Interest Group (SIG), which champions the collective interests of coastal communities by increasing awareness and debate on environmental, economic and social issues at all levels in relation to the coast.

He said: “As we enter the summer season there is an opportunity for residents and businesses to make small but significant steps to support our motion for the ocean and help protect our ocean.

“Rising water temperatures and sea levels, changes in ocean chemistry and more frequent extreme weather impacts can affect local seafood and tourism industries while accelerating coastal erosion and the risk to infrastructure and properties.

“We know that businesses are under significant pressures as they come out of the pandemic. We aren’t expecting an overhaul of their practices in one go but want to work with businesses so that they can make small but significant changes that will reap benefits for the ocean moving forward.

“Collectively we can make a huge difference to help protect our marine environment and recognise the full range of benefits that a healthy ocean can bring.”

As well as calling on business to sign up, a 'protect our ocean’ campaign also asks everyone to also:

:: Stop releasing balloons and sky lanterns to mark an occasion or in memory of a loved one which can be harmful to animals, wildlife, and the ocean. Use bubbles or a memorial instead

:: Recycle as much as possible

:: Don’t light fires on beaches or in the parks – only have BBQs where signs say it is allowed.

:: Put litter in bins

:: Encourage people to join or set up beach litter picks

The council said it has also distributed 100 new black bins as part of a borough-wide bin replacement programme for damaged bins, with larger waste bins provided where needed – in areas of high footfall.

A further 25 recycling bins are strategically placed along the seafront, encouraging residents and visitors to recycle their empty cans, glass, and plastic bottles while out and about – supporting the principles of the ‘protect our ocean’ campaign.

The Motion for the Ocean saw the authority declare an urgent need for ocean recovery at its meeting of borough council earlier this year.

However, South Tyneside Green Party leader Councillor David Francis said the authority could do more on the issue itself, and repeated calls to scrap single-use plastics

“South Tyneside Green Party welcomes the opportunity to highlight these issues, and especially the desire to work with residents and businesses to improve our coastline,” he said.

"In any ideal world, South Tyneside Council could also show real leadership in terms of its own approach to single-use plastics – something that particularly affects our seas and oceans.

"In January this year, we called on the council to become a Single Use Plastic-free authority, to end the sales and provision of these items on council premises and to look at asking vendors at council events to avoid them as part of their contract.

"Although that proposal was rejected at the time, we are determined to keep pushing for further action to ensure that the local authority leads the way in protecting our coastlines.”