Arecord-breaking endurance swimmer has revealed he only saw “a few fish” during his 49-day swim of the English Channel, with plastic plaguing every beach he saw from Land’s End to Dover.
Lewis Pugh yesterday completed his 560km (348 mile) swim from Land’s End in Cornwall to Dover in Kent in a bid to raise awareness about the state of our oceans.
But on arriving at Shakespeare Beach on Wednesday afternoon the environmental campaigner and UN Patron of the Oceans revealed that during his mammoth swim he had encountered plastic on every beach he saw.
Mr Pugh was greeted on the beach by Environment Secretary Michael Gove who hailed the 48-year-old a “modern day hero” but Mr Pugh insisted that “now the real work actually begins” as he called on the secretary and other countries to protect their oceans.
On completing his swim he said: “I have also seen plastic on every beach from Land’s End to Dover. We have taken the fish out of the ocean and replaced them with plastic.”
During his swim which began on July 12 Mr Pugh has documented just how plastic and illegal fishing is impacting Britain’s coastlines.
Writing in his blog he said: “The fish have been replaced with plastic. Those fish that are left are eating microplastics. Once they enter the food chain, we eat them too. Plastic is slowly killing us all.
“The public knows, they care deeply – yet successive government have not only failed to act but have made promises that they have failed to keep. It’s up to us to now hold them to account.”
His campaign, called The Long Swim, aims to raise awareness of the threat to the UK’s coastal waters from climate change, over-fishing and plastic pollution.
Pushing his body to the limit, the 48-year-old had to make do with up to four hours of sleep a day as he swam between six and 12 miles every 24 hours.
Mr Pugh wants at least 30 per cent of the world’s oceans to be protected by 2030. The current figure stands at around four per cent.
On completing his swim he urged Mr Gove to attend the upcoming G7 Summit to allow Britain to lead the charge in protecting our oceans.
“It’s an opportunity for Britain to lead – at the moment there is a vacuum in leadership in terms of protecting our oceans,” he said.
“I think this is a natural place for Britain to be, protecting our oceans not just around the UK but also in overseas territories.
“I would like Michael [Gove] to go to the G7 summit and show the other nations and the UN that we talk the talk and do the job when it comes to ocean protection.