Blue recovery: inspiring action, protecting oceans

by Marine Conservation Society in United Kingdom

Total raised £60

Gift Aid
+ est. £2.50
£349,000 target 304 days left
0% 2 supporters
Flexible funding – this project will receive all pledges made by 31st March 2025 at 12:00pm

We urgently need cleaner seas and healthier marine habitats. Help us empower volunteers to help protect our oceans.

by Marine Conservation Society in United Kingdom




We are the Marine Conservation Society. For 40 years we have been the voice of the ocean, defending our coastal habitats and species. Through our unique blend of robust science, high-quality engagement and pioneering projects, we work with communities, businesses and governments towards a cleaner, better protected, healthier ocean – one we can all enjoy.    



We have a narrow window of opportunity to halt the devastating decline of ocean habitats and species and create cleaner, healthier seas. Connecting people with our ocean and empowering them to act to protect it is vital to achieving our goals. 

The rapid decline in ocean health is well documented. It’s adversely impacting human wellbeing, our economy and livelihoods, whilst the climate emergency is causing rising sea levels.  Already affecting often fragile coastal communities this will be devastating in future. The ocean has an incredible ability to recover when given the chance and is a powerful tool in combatting climate change and its effects. It provides more than half the oxygen we breath and absorbs nearly a third of our carbon emissions. 



Our Blue Recovery project will build on the incredible support received from Defra’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund in recent years to create a growing community of volunteers.  Between April 2022 and March 2023, across the length and breadth of the UK, 15,595 people volunteered with the Marine Conservation Society, cleaning 754 beaches and inland locations, and reporting 1,137 wildlife sightings. Inspiring communities is at the heart of what we do, and with your support we can do even more:  Together we will: 

  • Empower thousands of volunteers to create cleaner and better protected costal environments through beach and inland cleans. 
  • Engage communities in citizen science, gathering crucial data on marine litter, wildlife and habitat change.  Information that will inform our advocacy and could lead to legislative change on, for example, single-use plastics and sewage overflows. 
  • Invest in inspiring and empowering the next generation to become advocates for change through our Youth Ocean Network



In the short-term, funding will create cleaner seas and beaches.  Longer-term, data collected by volunteers will support advocacy work to inform policy decisions and conservation plans, leading to lasting change.  


Our Beachwatch and Seasearch initiatives are at the heart of our volunteering programme, giving individuals the opportunity to engage with the marine environment, make an impact on their communities and benefit their own health and wellbeing. 

We will deliver a national volunteering programme that is relevant and accessible from anywhere, not limited by geography, finances or personal circumstances; empowering individuals and communities with the knowledge and skills to take meaningful and sustained personal action. We will grow our new Ocean Voice volunteer roles, including community presenters, media spokespeople, policy and campaign champions, and events leads. Through a blend of online resources, training and DIY volunteering opportunities we’ll increase participation in volunteering, deliver a higher quality of engagement and inspire critical personal and social action that will drive meaningful change.    


Youth Engagement 

We will continue to grow our Youth Ocean Network and deliver Ocean Roadshows across the UK, to inspire young people with the power, natural diversity and value of our ocean and equip them to protect it. We will engage young people, amplify their voices and give them a role in our organisation. 

Having established the Youth Ocean Network in 2022, we now aspire to deliver a deeper and more sustained form of engagement achieving long term impact. With support, we’ll be able to trial and test a new blended model of youth engagement, including continued online delivery plus a series of in-person workshops, which will build confidence and leadership skills, empowering young people to become long-term advocates for positive change for our ocean.  


Citizen Science 

Citizen science is a vital tool for engagement, awareness raising, inspiration and partnership working. It provides practical skills development opportunities, whilst delivering real  conservation impact.  

Our citizen science volunteers collect data on litter and wildlife sightings which informs our State of the Beaches report. This is shared with national and international bodies to help inform policy decisions, conservation plans, and to inspire positive behaviour change. 

We make this easy for our volunteers through our national flagship programmes, Seasearch and Beachwatch, and projects such as our Wildlife Sightings Scheme, Big Seaweed Search and Source to Sea.  These have proved great opportunities; appealing to businesses and diverse audiences including young people and those from under-represented groups.   


Our Flagship Volunteer Opportunities 


Seasearch offers recreational divers, snorkellers, swimmers and beach walkers a new challenge, an exciting way to learn about marine life while doing their bit to protect and restore our ocean.  By collecting information about the habitats, plants and animals that they see underwater, they are helping us track the health of our marine environments. Over the past 30 years more than 800,000 records of species have been logged and more than 50,000 records of habitats.  

Seasearch is data collection for a purpose. The records illustrating what lives where are used to build up an understanding of how populations might be changing. Knowledge of change is essential to manage the marine environment, enable sustainable use of resources and to conserve features that are under threat. From student projects to commissioned research, and from maps of the seabed to scientific publications, Seasearch data is now used in a huge variety of ways. All Seasearch data is freely and publicly available on the National Biodiversity Network and National Biodiversity Centre of Ireland websites and all reports are published on the Seasearch website (  

Your support will help to run our Seasearch programme across England. 



Beachwatch, our national beach cleaning programme, is our most direct community action opportunity. For 30 years, our Beachwatch volunteers have not only kept our beaches clean, they have also provided valuable data to help us identify trends in marine litter so we can stop pollution at source. Beach clean data is used to advocate for legislative change, as well as influence industry practices and drive campaigns that lead to individual behaviour change.  

Volunteer-collected data has helped us push for some of the most significant policies to reduce beach litter to date; the single-use plastic bag charge, banning microplastics in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, banning or supporting a tax on single-use plastic items and leading the way for a Deposit Return System. Our annual UK-wide Great British Beach Clean runs every September, involving thousands of volunteers.   

Your support will help to run our Beachwatch programme across England. 




  • Goal 1: Thriving plants and wildlife  
  • Goal 10: Enhanced beauty, heritage, and engagement with the natural environment  
  • Nature conservation and restoration – habitats and ecosystem restoration and/or species recovery  
  • Connecting people with nature – including access, engagement, skills or employment  


This project will connect people with nature, whilst also delivering nature conservation and restoration benefits through practical improvements to coastal and inland local habitats.  

It will deliver improvements to England’s natural heritage, leading to cleaner coastal environments and better protected marine landscapes. Beach cleans are proven to have positive impacts on health and wellbeing, and to reduce the flux of litter from the land to the ocean, reducing levels of ocean pollution and microplastics. Data on pollution trends provides robust evidence to inform policy and motivate individuals to choose more ocean friendly behaviour. Recording species and wildlife sightings data (e.g. seaweeds, jellyfish) improves understanding of the impact of ocean warming and acidification on marine environments and informs habitat conservation interventions.    




  • Grow our community of volunteers - recruiting 2000 new volunteers over the coming 12 months. 
  • Deliver a year-round programme of support for our volunteers, running monthly welcome sessions for new volunteers and sending out monthly e-news updates. 
  • Recruit new Ocean Voice volunteers and train them to become confident speakers and media spokespeople. 
  • Expand our volunteer roles to establish new events, policy and advocacy volunteers. 
  • Develop new online learning tools including learning animations and training resources. 
  • Invest in training and equipment for new Beachwatch organisers to improve skills and confidence as well as ensure data is robust. 
  • Recruit more volunteers from under-represented groups, making it easier for all to volunteer with us.  
  • Create online maps to help direct volunteers to where their work is needed most. 


Youth Engagement 

  • Grow our Youth Ocean Network in England to 40 young people aged 13-17 (25% growth) and 105, 18–25 year olds (20% growth).   
  • Deliver skills and resources to Youth Ocean Network with a refreshed suite of online tools. 
  • Run two Youth Engagement Roadshow events in England reaching 80 young people. 
  • Empower our Youth Ocean Network Members to engage new and underrepresented audiences in our work.  
  • Deliver monthly Youth Ocean Network online meetings bringing like-minded young people together.  
  • Pave the way for older Youth Ocean Network members to become Sea Champions (adult MCS volunteers). 


Citizen Science 

  • Scale up our reach to 10,000 Beachwatch volunteers taking part in 800 beach clean events.  
  • Run 100 corporate Team Beach Clean events involving 3,000 Team Beach Clean volunteers.  A wonderful opportunity to engage your teams.  
  • Grow inland Source to Sea volunteering, communicating with 10,000 people via our e-news updates and running five online training sessions. 
  • Upskill our volunteers in citizen science techniques, running 15 training events for 300 volunteers and supporting our Seasearch divers and snorkellers to report their findings.  
  • Make it easier for people from underrepresented groups to get involved, including creation of a Seasearch video for young people and Beachwatch resources for people living with hearing and sight loss. 
  • Promote our findings through our annual State of our Seas report and Wildlife Sightings Scheme report, and through new online interactive maps.


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