Personal Profile

My name is Will Jackson,

I am an Environmental Science student at Plymouth University and a keen surfer.

I have grown up in north Devon right on the coast, for this reason I was drawn to the ocean and thus surfing; surfing has nurtured my fondness for the ocean and awareness of human interaction with it. My particular interest in terms of research is environmental pollution, specifically marine pollution.



Local Marine Pollution – North Devon

North Devon has arguably some of the best beaches in the UK, and for the most part its waters are clean, safe and used by thousands each year. In June 2015 three of its blue flagged beaches were closed for short periods of time for water quality issues, this raised doubt among many locals and visitors of the safety and water quality.

Case study: Sewer pipe reef


Photo taken 12/12/2016 – Sewer Pipe Reef

As the name suggests this is a reef that sits just of the end of a sewage overflow outlet pipe, fortunately this reef can only be surfed by competent surfers, the shallow reef with sharp rocks and the fairly secluded nature of the wave discourages most, however for those who surf it after heavy rain will see an ‘organic’ clod coming for them though the water. As shown in the photo above this is the wave after a period of heavy rain. There are several possible infectious implications from contact with contaminated water including Norovirus and E. coli and many more! The issue of this contamination must be addressed, this outlet pipe needs to be significantly further out to sea to account for coastal and tidal currents.

This is not the only case of exposure to effluent in sea water in the UK, black pool has been measure significantly above the national legislation for concentrations of several bacteria (Alexander, 2010). Safe localised sea-water conditions are essential, especially in a region driven by the tourist industry.


Alexander, L. M. (2010). Symptomatology of children in contact with sea water contaminated with sewage. Journal of Epidemiol Community Health, 340-344.

Surfboard Construction – Environmental Impact Assesment

Surfers in general are viewed as environmentally conscious individuals; however, the boards that almost all of them ride are not considered green.

The surfboard has evolved from the 100% recyclable, sustainable wooden board used by the Hawaiians. In the 1950s and 60s board manufacture moved away from wooden boards due to the invention of foam core boards; A much lighter, more manoeuvrable design.

Foam core boards now represent 70% of the current market (Schultz, 2009), Figure 1 shows a cutaway image of the typical construction:


Figure 1 – Surfboard Cutaway

In this type of construction, a foam core is encapsulated by fibreglass soaked with hardened polyester resin.

Interest is growing in the surf community to design a surfboard from “green” materials (Schultz, 2009), surfboard manufacture results in Co2 emissions and toxic by-products.

For the purposes of the study performed by (Sullivan, 2007), Surfers were surveyed and interviews were conducted with surfboard shapers and others involved in the surf industry. This showed that the concept of environmental pollution due to surfboard manufacture within the surf community is general; furthermore, those who showed interest in the creation of as sustainable board haven’t voiced this to shapers and sponsors. Since this study there has been a movement in the industry to find alternatives to the foam/fibreglass construction. This movement was sparked by the closing of Clark Foam, the largest producer and supplier of foam surfboard blanks. The plant was forced to shut down because of increasing environmental regulations. (Hole, 2011)

The emissions from wooden board production and classic foam boards was compared in terms of environmental impact, the results show that wood surfboard production produces far less emissions of CO2, CO, SO2, NOx, VOC, and PM10 than foam surfboard production does (Hole, 2011). From an environmental point of view wood surfboards are a much better choice than the foam boards in use now, however the challenge is marketing such a board.

A awareness campaign would be of great value to the surf industry with regard to reducing their carbon footprint.


Hole, B. (2011). AN ENVIRONMENTAL COMPARISON OF FOAMCORE. Vancouver : University of British Columbia Library.

Schultz, T. C. (2009). The Surfboard Cradle-to-Grave Life Cycle – Assessment of a Common Surfboard: Epoxy vs. UPR . California.

Sullivan, S. (2007). Sustainable Surfboards. Brisbane: Independant Study Project (ISP).


Marine Plastic Polution

A current hot topic is Plastic pollution, there is growing concern surrounding plastic pollution and with good reason, Microplastic has been reported in every major open ocean and many freshwater lakes and rivers (Rochman Et Al, 2015).

What are microplastics and why are they a problem?

The size of plastic pollution (Macroplastic – (>5mm), Microplastic – (<5mm)) (Fendall, 2009) means they are bioavailable to thousands of species across nearly all trophic levels (Rochman Et Al, 2015). Most products that contain microplastics have a size of <100 microns, this means they can be ingested by plankton immediately  (Rochman Et Al, 2015), it must be considered that these organisms are at the bottom of the food chain thus these plastics will be transmitted up the food chain. Over time these plastics will be exposed to sunlight and with it they will undergo UV-degradation, this will make them smaller and more toxic in the long term.

Where do they come from?

In the 1990s it was recognised that a source of microplastic pollution was liquid hand-cleansers, this seemed a small problem as these products were rarely used by the average consumer. However, in 2009, microplastic-containing products are much more common in the household as the majority of facial cleansers now contain polyethylene microplastics. These are not captured by wastewater plants and will enter the oceans (Fendall, 2009).

In developed countries, where these products are used much more frequently, waste water goes through several treatment processes. Waste water is sent through settling tanks, within these tanks 95−99.9% of the microbeads may settle out into the sludge (Rochman Et Al, 2015), as a result the final discharge contains fewer than seven microbeads per litre of effluent, this may not sound significant, however an example is that waste water treatment plants in the United States are capable of treating more than 160 trillion litres of water every day (Rochman Et Al, 2015), this water is then discharged directly into habitats.

How can this problem be solved?

There has not yet been proposed a cost-effective efficient clean-up technique, it is for this reason marine scientists need to educate the public to the dangers of using products that pose an immediate and long-term threat to the health of the oceans and the food we eat (Fendall, 2009). Source reduction seems to be the most likely avenue to pursue.

Another option is to return to abrasive materials previously used in these products such as pumice, oatmeal, or walnut husks.

Currently this problem is only getting worse and there are no current cleanup schemes that are working however a ban on microbeads has been imposed in america and the UK will join them in 2017.


Fendall, L. S. (2009). Contributing to marine pollution by washing your face: Microplastics in facial cleansers. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 1225 – 1228.

Free Et Ea, C. M. (2014). High-levels of microplastic pollution in a large, remote, mountain lake. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 156 – 163.

Rochman Et Al, C. M. (2015). Scientific Evidence Supports a Ban on Microbeads. Environmental Science and Technology, 10759 – 10761.


Earth Summit Simulation

In the last two weeks I have taken part, in a group of four in an earth summit simulation workshop. The country we were allocated was Ethiopia, a developing, under nourished African nation. The given proposal was:

Carbon emissions to be neutral by 2100.

Background Research

The research stage gave us the opportunity to gain a concise and in-depth knowledge base for our respective country.

This was an enlightening experience and shed light on the current state of Ethiopia’s climate both in an Economic and environmental sense. Ethiopia is a developing country that is suffering severely due to climate change. Agricultural production remains the main source of income for most rural communities in the region (Bryan Et Al, 2009), an industry in which climatic conditions are imperative, especially with the relatively undeveloped farming style of Ethiopia, due to the relative lack of industrialisation. Adaptation of the agricultural sector is crucial to protect the livelihoods of the poor and to ensure food security (Bryan Et Al, 2009).

Over the last decades, Ethiopia has experienced climatic changes. Average temperature has increased markedly, with 0.2°C13 to 0.28°C14 per decade over the last 40-50 years. It has been most extreme in already dry and hot areas of the country, most notably in the north and east, and in the July-September season (Oxfam, 2010).

Climate change poses a huge challenge to Ethiopia and its people. The country is faced with increasingly unpredictable rains, and sometimes the complete failure of seasonal rains – problems which are linked to climate change (Oxfam, 2010). The main barriers include lack of information on adaptation methods and financial constraints (Deressa, 2009).

As a result of the information found though research we decided that as representatives of Ethiopia we would vote yes for this proposal, we felt that it was the obvious decision for a country that is suffering the brunt of climate change.


The second stage was the pitch; this was to work within our group to design a presentation to provide context for our decision. Our presentation was and concise compact verbal presentation, summarising the hardest hitting impacts of the current Ethiopian climate alongside a brief background of Ethiopia as a country.


And finally the discussion, this was the most interesting aspect of the process, we were given the opportunity to pose a question to another country and have a discussion, the American group were representing ‘Trump’s America’, and as expected some of their input was fairly closed minded and US centric, they were reluctant to reduce America’s emissions as it would impact the development of Americas economy. We (Ethiopia) posed the question ‘by dispelling this concept do you agree you are dispelling the notion that we are all one community and we all live on this earth’ to with America replied… ‘I’m pretty sure we know where we live, we live in America’, in this scenario they were fanning the fire of the stereotype of a closed minded America.


Bryan Et Al, E. (2009). Adaptation to climate change in Ethiopia and South Africa: options and constraints. Environmental Science & Policy, 413-426.

Deressa, T. t. (2009). Determinants of farmers’ choice of adaptation methods to climate change in the Nile Basin of Ethiopia. Global Environmental Change, 248-255.

Oxfam. (2010). The Rain Doesn’t Come on Time Anymore – poverty, venerability and climate variability in Ethiopia. London: Oxfam International.


Dartmoor National Park – Environmental Impact Assessment

Dartmoor National Park is a moorland situated in the middle of Devon, in southwest England. It is currently exposed to a battle faced by many moorland areas in the UK, this revolves around the balance of interests from a variety of pressure groups. The issue is that growing pressure placed on the natural environment from increased tourism within the Dartmoor national park (Tubb, 2010).

To conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)of the Physical, Biological and Recreational qualities of Dartmoor; the three main factors to consider are:

  • Maintaining Natural Biodiversity

Dartmoor boasts an impressive level of biodiversity, Ponies roam almost the entirety of the 954 km² of Dartmoor, it is also a popular destination for bird watchers due to the opportunity to see relatively high numbers of birds of prey and sky larks in the wild. Skylarks are of particular importance as between 1986 and 1995 the population of skylarks in the south of the UK declined by 51% this meant a loss of almost three million birds (Wilson, 1995). Four sites around Dartmoor are designated as National Nature Reserves (NNRs) and around 30,000 hectares of Dartmoor National Park (31% of the total area) is designated for its wildlife or geological value in numerous Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) (Dartmoor National Park Authority, 2011). In 2009, a number of areas on Dartmoor that were of county interest to wildlife were designated as County Wildlife Sites. The recognition of the environmental value of dartmoor in terms of biodiversity is being recognised.

  • Supporting Sustainable Farming

Farming has been practiced on Dartmoor since prehistoric times with evidence that supports the presence grazing animals in 1480 (Fyfe, 2008) the contemporary situation is that Farming on Dartmoor currently faces a number of significant challenges from a wide variety of sources (Turner, 2002). Hill farming requires assistance in terms of policy to run efficiently and sustainably to reduce the negative environmental impact. However, if hill farms employ appropriate practices they can have a positive impact on the physical, biological and recreational state of their surrounding environment (Turner, 2002).

  • Upholding sustainable use of Dartmoor as a site for recreation

Dartmoor is a popular destination for walkers, horse riders, and cyclists looking for a raw and beautiful upland setting. This tourism can have negative impacts if visitors have a lack of awareness (Tubb, 2010). The key to limiting the environmental impact of tourism without reducing accessibility of the moor is education (Dartmoor National Park Authority, 2011).

The objective for conservation of dartmoor is to maintain all three of these factors rather than focusing on one factor exclusively as this will cause conflict. This is the objective ot the National Park Authority: ‘The National Park Authority relies on the co-operation of all who live, work and visit Dartmoor to help safeguard its special qualities for the present and future generations’.

Dartmoor National Park Authority. (2011). Sites of Nature Conservation Interest. Dartmoor National Park.

Fyfe, R. M. (2008). Historical context and chronology of Bronze Age land enclosure on Dartmoor, UK. Journal of Archaeological Science, 2250-2261.

Tubb, K. N. (2010). An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Interpretation within Dartmoor National Park in Reaching the Goals of Sustainable Tourism Development. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 476-489.

Turner, M. (2002). The State of Farming on Dartmoor 2002. Exeter: Centre for Rural Research.

Wilson, J. D. (1995). Territory distribution and breeding sucsess of skylarks Alauda Arvensis on organic and intensive farmland in southern England. Journal of Applied Ecology, 1462-1478.


Marine Bin: Initial Ideas and Developements

Marine pollution is one of the key environmental issues that are in discussion within the environmentally conscious community today. It is seen as a major issue as it manifests itself in many different ways, whether it’s the 52 metric tonnes of marine debris that accumulates on the coral reefs of Hawaiian Islands  (Dameron, 2007), the enrichment or seafood with heavy metals (Cd and Hg) in Hong Kong due to waste from over 2,000 factories (Departement of Applied Science, City Polytechnic of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong, 1988) or closer to home the oestrogenic products entering UK estuaries (Blackburn, 1999); all these contribute to fulling the research into reduction and prevention methods  aimed at marine pollution.

An innovative solution to the problem of marine pollution within marinas is the SeaBin Project, this is an example of a method of reduction of debris to the open ocean that shows a huge amount of potential.

Two Australian surfers Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton (a former plastic product designer),started off being a part of the problem; realising this he designed the seabin with . have designed and made an automated rubbish bin that catches floating rubbish, oil, fuel and general debris. It designed for floating docks in the water of marinas, private pontoons, inland waterways, residential lakes, harbours, ports and yacht clubs, it can also be fitted to super yachts and motor yachts!

Blackburn, M. (1999). Concentrations of alkyphenol polyethoxylates entering UK estuaries . Marine Pollution Bulletin, 109-118

Dameron, O. (2007, April). Elsevier, pp. 423-433.

Departement of Applied Science, City Polytechnic of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong. (1988). Marine Polution in Hong Kong: A Reveiw. Asian Marine Biology, 1-23.