Jane Maddocks introduces guest columnist Kerry MacKay of the GRAB Trust, who will set out how divers can contribute directly to environmental protection. 

Healthy seas are important to us as members of BSAC. Sewage dumping in rivers and seas directly affects marine life, and our diving. Microplastics are everywhere, and we seem challenged by some of the ways we need to change our behaviour if we are to slow down climate change in a meaningful way. With a background in archaeology, I know that sea level rise is not new. I dive on drowned landscapes regularly, after all. What is different is the level of pollution of our rivers and oceans. My own expertise does not lie in this field, but I know a diver who has practical experience in bringing simple pollution-solutions to a wide range of individuals. Here, I ask Kerry MacKay to introduce herself in this column.

What do we need do to help keep our beautiful oceans clean? You’ll be relieved to know that you probably already do several things that help. 

My name is Kerry MacKay and I’m going to be sharing my top tips for how we can reduce our impact on the marine environment. I’ll look at a different marine pollution issue for each of my columns and give ideas about what we can do to improve the situation.

So, who am I to tell you this? In my day job, I work as a Beaches and Marine Litter Project Education Officer for a small charity in Scotland called The GRAB Trust. I work with local schools and community groups to support beach cleans and litter picks. We encourage people to undertake Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch surveys

join in this journey of discovery so we can all make our lives that little bit better, for us and the planet

I also create and host a range of fun and educational workshops on the topic of reducing waste to try to instil environmentally responsible behaviour in our society. Workshops range from a story set under the sea for a nursery, to role-playing as the leader of a country at a COP climate summit. Although we are only funded to cover Argyll and Bute in person, we have a bunch of fun videos and downloadable workbooks freely available. So if you, or a young explorer you know, is looking for something exciting to do, search for us on YouTube, “The GRAB Trust - Reducing Waste”. This is also ideal for activities if the diving is blown out.

Like you, I’m a BSAC diver. I love diving and did my very first try dive over 10 years ago. I’ve worked my way up the BSAC ladder to Advanced Diver and I am due to sit my Advanced Instructor Course and Exams later this year. I dive in Scotland all year round and 90% of my diving has been here in the UK. I love doing Seasearch dives, playing with my camera, teaching, cleaning up litter I find, and of course, nudibranch hunting. 

Throughout my small-scale pollution-solution reports, we will explore the tiny particles involved right up to the global scale of problems. My background in Ecology will help us explore this vast and complex web of interactions and hopefully allow us to untangle some of the knots our lifestyles of convenience are creating.

I am certainly not an expert in any one of the fields of marine pollution that we will be discussing, and this is a rapidly changing world with exciting new technology emerging every day. But I hope you will join in this journey of discovery so we can all make our lives that little bit better, for us and the planet.

So, I look forward to sharing all sorts of pollution-busting tips over the coming months. If there is a particular topic you’d like me to discuss and provide tips on, then please write to the Editor at simon@scubamagazine.co.uk 

Article 'Towards a pollution solution' by Jane Maddocks first published in SCUBA magazine, Issue 136 June 2023.

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