Summary of A Sea Change

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Experts suggest that only 13% of the planet’s oceans are still in their natural, wild state, while the rest has been significantly impacted by human activity. The tide rolls in and when it rolls back out, it leaves tons of plastic detritus. Just 11 years ago in 2007, filth and plastic waste littered beaches on the Isle of Man, which sits in the Irish Sea between Ireland and England. Those who want to protect the world’s oceans will be interested in how the Isle of Man and its 83,000 residents have since earned UNESCO status as a biosphere region – that is, a world leader in ocean protection.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the Isle of Man gained UNESCO biosphere region status,
  • How residents have banded together to clean up the island’s beaches, and
  • Why 10 years of cooperation among the fishing industry, residents and charitable organizations has made a real difference.

About the Author

Sandra Laville is a senior correspondant for The Guardian and covers environmental issues.



Bill Dale is a resident of the Isle of Man and the founder of the charity Beach Buddies. In just 11 years, some 10,000 Beach Buddy volunteers have worked to keep the island’s 100 miles of coastline free of plastic. The beaches weren’t always so pristine. In 2007, layers of plastic bottles and other packaging covered the beaches. About 12% of the island’s population has since participated in beach cleanups. Dale explains that “we have kids who come with their schools to do a beach clean, then tell their parents: ‘Dad, I want to go and do a beach clean on Saturday,’ and they bring their parents here. These beaches are virtually...

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