New Seafront Sculpture has its 'Porpoise'
Visitors to South Shields seafront will be doing their bit for the environment with a giant metal sculpture helping to keep the coastline clean and tidy.
New landmark Feed the Fish, which has been installed at Sandhaven this week, encourages beach users to 'feed' it single use plastic bottles so that they can be taken away for recycling.
The initiative aims to reduce the amount of plastic waste being left on the beach and washed up on to shores.
Councillor Joan Atkinson, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for Culture, Leisure and the Visitor Economy, said: "We're excited to be introducing the Feed the Fish initiative to beach visitors at Sandhaven.
"It will not only support us to keep our beaches clean and tidy and encourage people to recycle their single use plastic bottles but will help to raise awareness of the risk this material poses to the environment.
"The danger of plastic pollution to marine life and birds is well documented. According to UNESCO, plastic debris is responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 mammals and over one million seabirds each year.
"We hope that this new sculpture will inspire and engage beach visitors to support our efforts to keep plastic off the beach and prevent it being washed into the ocean. Every piece of plastic that is fed to the fish will make a difference to our planet through preventing pollution and supporting recycling.
"It is particularly fitting that the fish has been installed as we celebrate 2023 being the Year of the Coast."
The Council will be working with local schools and groups over the coming months to help develop the sculpture further. This will include coming up with a name for the fish to create a sense of ownership and identity.
The Feed the Fish initiative supports the Borough's 'Protect our Ocean' campaign which continues to highlight the importance of wider coastal education around issues such as single-use plastics and reusable materials, as well as encouraging businesses to do what they can to make their businesses greener and find alternative solutions and disposal methods.
It also supports the 'Motion for the Ocean' which, in January 2022, saw the Council declare an urgent need for ocean recovery and make a commitment to take positive action to help enhance and restore nature and protect the coastline.
South Tyneside also continues to champion coastal communities on a national level, as the lead authority for the Local Government Association's (LGA) Coastal Special Interest Group (SIG)
Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Transport and Neighbourhoods at South Tyneside Council and Chair of the LGA Coastal SIG, said: "I'm really pleased to see this Feed the Fish being introduced in South Tyneside.
"It links well with all the work we are doing in the fight against climate chance and in raising awareness of the importance of our oceans and the need to protect it, not just for coastal communities like South Tyneside, but everywhere.
"Our work is wide ranging, from educating residents, schoolchildren and businesses on how they can help reduce their impact on the ocean to strengthening partnerships, embedding ocean recovery in all of the Council's strategic decisions and pushing for policy change at national level."
Feed the Fish comes after the Council introduced 25 additional recycling bins along the seafront area last summer to encourage residents and visitors to recycle their empty cans, glass and plastic bottles while out and about. This type of recycling on-the-go bin will also be seen more widely in other areas of the Borough.
Councillor Atkinson added: "We have a beautiful seafront with teams working extremely hard to keep it looking it's best. We want everybody to enjoy their time at the beach but would ask people to dispose of their plastic, and any other waste, responsibly."