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We are one of 10 charities that M&S customers can choose to benefit every time they use their Sparks card. Every time they shop at M&S and use their Sparks card, M&S donates a penny to their chosen charity.
To date M&S has donated £3.4 million to charities in this way. The money that comes to the Marine Conservation Society helps fund conservation work to clean seas and coasts so they can provide a home for wildlife and sustainable livelihoods for people.
We believe a healthy ocean is vital to all of us: from the air we breathe, to the seafood we enjoy and the quality time we spend at the beach with our friends and family. Support from businesses like M&S means we can continue vital projects such as the Good Fish Guide, which directly improves the sustainability of over 5.7 million seafood meals a week.
So far, 2017 has been an incredible year. The BBC is in the middle of its epic documentary series Blue Planet II, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Each episode gives a real sense of what it’s like being underwater amongst fabulous creatures. You might also have caught Sky's Ocean Rescue on TV this year, on tour around the UK with a whale made from recovered plastic bottles.
Some of the marine life we've encountered in UK seas this year has been pretty amazing. We’ve seen bluefin tuna, leatherback turtles, sunfish and whales. For reasons not quite known, thousands of both spooky and beautiful Portuguese man-o-war washed up on UK shores, drifting here with storms and currents.
There’s some good news to report on some of the threats our sea life faces. When thousands of volunteers headed out to clean beaches last year, they found fewer plastic bags than ever before, a direct result of the small charge on bags at shop counters. There are also moves afoot to ban small plastic particles, called microbeads, from make-ups and scrubs that otherwise get flushed down the sink and into the sea.
The health of some of the stocks of fish we eat has improved – check the Good Fish Guide website, or the award-winning Good Fish Guide mobile phone app, for a range of options for a sustainable seafood supper.
Representatives of governments and businesses from many countries made hundreds of commitments at the Ocean Summit, held in Malta in October. These include reducing emissions of CO2from shipping, reducing illegal fishing and manufacturers’ commitments to finding alternatives to plastic, amongst many others.
2017 has proved a good year for our seas. Donations from companies like M&S and our volunteers are key to the future of our oceans.
So please get involved and let’s make 2018 even better!