25 Jun 2018 Story Climate change

An open invitation from UN Environment Patron of Oceans, Lewis Pugh, to join him as he swims the length of the English Channel

Kelvin Trautman

Lewis Pugh, UN Environment’s Patron of the Oceans is the personification of inspiration. To raise awareness about the state of our oceans, Pugh has been swimming in the frigid and freezing waters of Arctic and Antarctica. He has been putting his life at risk to show the world the impact of climate change and the vital role our oceans play for humanity.

Over the years, he’s been asking governments to put an end to the rhetoric, roll-up their sleeves and create marine protected areas. In July 2018, Pugh will embark on his toughest swim so far – something that no one to date has done.

He’ll be swimming the full length of the English Channel some 560 kilometres, which he expects will take 50 days to complete. “We’re drowning in commitments ... it is high-time for action”, says a passionate Pugh.

The Long Swim

“I am embarking on this swim to highlight importance of proper marine protected areas – areas where human activity such as fishing, drilling, shipping, gunnery practice and disrupting marine life is restricted and/or prohibited.”

UN Environment states that marine protected areas offer one of the best options to maintain our oceans’ health and avoid further degradation. They can be particularly effective when developed as part of a wider management solution.

Pugh’s message to the UK is “you can do better and more!” UK waters cover 750,000 square kilometers with only 7 square kilometre of these fully protected marine reserve.

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Photo by: Kelvin Trautman

A crowdsourced swim

Pugh has been training in the cold waters off South Africa for this swim.  A man of many “firsts”, he is crowdsourcing his Channel swim. “I want politicians, mums, children, businessmen and women, anyone to join me for any section of the swim.”

“There is nothing better than seeing the impact of our wrongdoing with your own two eyes”.

At the end of his daily 10 kilometre swim, Pugh will meet with local communities to discuss their challenges and opportunities. Each stop will be an opportunity to raise awareness and advocate for increased marine protected areas.

Surfers Against Sewage, a grass-roots organization engaged in cleaning up beaches in the UK with its 75,000 volunteers, will be amplifying Pugh’s message that “our oceans are in a real mess”.

“We must stop the plastic from entering our rivers and seas. And we must create a series of marine reserves around the UK”, says Pugh.

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Photo by: Kelvin Trautman

Taking the swim to other shores

When this “first” will be recorded in the annals of history, Pugh will take his “ocean show” to other shores. One thing is sure, you’ll never get bored following Lewis Pugh’s adventures. He is truly a patron of oceans.