Protecting the marine environment is a huge issue for the UK. Surrounded by coastline as we are, we have a responsibility to ensure that the seas and oceans are preserved. Our lives have a very great impact on the sea, just as the marine issues can severely affect our daily lives. The seas are becoming more polluted by industrial waste, rubbish and plastics; fish populations are being decimated; ocean acidification is increasing and biodiversity is threatened. We, as campaigners and as concerned citizens, must act on these vital issues if we are to affect the change that is urgently needed.

However, for those of us who live in landlocked areas such as the West Midlands, marine issues can often seem quite distant and irrelevant; we are liable to wonder what these issues have to do with us. We know that marine ecosystems are important to us. From the food we eat, to the things we throw away, we are inextricably linked to the oceans, but how can we in Birmingham motivate ourselves to take action on this much overlooked issue?

It was for this purpose that we threw ourselves our very own Birmingham Beach Party! The idea behind the party was to educate ourselves in marine issues, inspire us to take action and, of course, to have fun! The beach party took place on 24th August and was an excellent opportunity for us all to learn a bit more about ocean conservation issues.

There was a sea-themed quiz through which we learnt many facts about marine conservation. The answers to some of the quiz questions were pretty tough but clues to the answers could be discovered in the litter fishing game. In the ‘sea’ (made from an old reclaimed bathtub!) were many plastic bottles littering the water. Partygoers had to fish out the bottles with a fishing rod to clean up the sea. The bottles contained messages with clues to the quiz. The thinking behind this was that, just like the ocean ecosystem, the party games should all be interconnected.

There was also a fancy dress competition. Alongside the bathtub sea, there was a makeshift beach made from reclaimed sand and recycled decorations such as cardboard bunting. The BBQ was a particular highlight of the party. The day was well spent and everyone came away feeling a little more informed about marine conservation issues and why they are important, even for landlocked communities.

The party took place in the recently opened Digbeth Community Garden, see Jake’s article about this on page 8. The Community Garden is a great space where a small pocket of nature thrives in the midst of the sprawling urban jungle.

It is areas like this that the newly developed Nature Everywhere idea (formulated by national Friends of the Earth) seeks to celebrate. When we live in urban areas we tend to think of nature as a separate, far-off concept from our lives; we sometimes get the idea that nature is a day trip. The concept of Nature Everywhere challenges that notion. No matter what sort of setting we live in, rural or urban, we are surrounded by nature: the tree across the road, the grass verge, and the flowers in the window box down the road. All these natural wonders need to be protected and enjoyed.

We in Birmingham celebrate our green spaces, we celebrate our connection to the sea and we celebrate our commitment to protecting and enjoying nature wherever it may be found!

Tom Garrood