‘Code Red for Humanity’ was called this November as hundreds of surfers, swimmers, campaigners and community projects came together to demand action on climate change and sea pollution.

Edith Reeves, organiser of the protest and founder of MOSGA (Make Our Sea’s Great Again), said at the protest, “This is a code red for humanity. Every single person on our planet will be affected by intensifying climate change and many are already suffering. Without drastic change (soon, not by 2050), this planet and all its inhabitants will not survive.
We do not have time to wait for those in power to decide our fate. While they are busy with their parliamentary playground arguments, our planet is dying and only we can be the force of change.”

Edith went on to discuss the dumping of raw sewage into local seas and rivers by Northumbria Water, saying, “If Northumbrian Water and other privatised water companies spent some of their millions of pounds on doing the right thing by improving our sewage systems then we wouldn’t be seeing it poured all over our beach and into our ocean.
Last year, there was 3.1 million hours worth of sewage pouring onto English beaches.”

Phil Robinson, of Surfers Against Sewage, spoke to the gathered audience of surfers and swimmers, many of whom were dressed in wetsuits and beachwear, and local beach users, saying, “We are here for both the immediate threat we can all see on the beaches locally, and also the long term damage that is being done to this precious place. We must raise awareness, act and do what we can to protect this place.”

Phil shared how protecting the seas is both a global and a local issue pointing out how important sea life is to reducing carbon from the air, a key cause of climate change and global warming but also how local measures taken by water companies and politicians were also incredibly important. He slammed them for not being there at the protest and also for voting against measures to stop water companies putting raw sewage into the sea.

He added, “Why do they (Northumberland Water) have a holding company in a tax haven in the Cayman islands… And yet, we still face increasing prices for our water and sewage only for it to end up in our rivers and seas.”

Jessie Joe Jacobs, who was former metro mayoral candidate and who runs the group Saltburn Surfers, said, “It’s important that we’ve got the community together. I stand here today as an ordinary citizen, as a surfer who loves our seas. We’ve seen, over the last few weeks, a whole load of crabs and dead sealife. I think this has brought home to people how important it is that we protect the planet.

“We know with climate change if we don’t act now, if changes aren’t made now, we’re going to see millions of animals dying because of man-made decisions.

“Today there are more people than I’ve ever seen at a protest in Saltburn, but if we are to see real change, it will take all of us, citizens, sea users, politicians, businesses and campaigners.”

If you want to know more about getting involved in local campaigns to protect the ocean, you can join the following campaigns or groups:

Surfers Against Sewage

Make Our Oceans Great Again (MOOGA)

Friends of the Earth

Greenpeace

There are also regular litter picks in Saltburn and Redcar organised by local groups. 

Photos by Frances Fitzgerald