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Stewardship of the Sea

Caring for the world’s oceans and seas

by Helen Gwynne-Kinsey

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider the importance of caring for the world’s oceans and seas.

Preparation and materials


  1. Show the images that depict the beauty of the British coastline.

    Suggest to the students that it is highly likely that they enjoy going to the beach. When the sun shines and the weather is warm, nothing beats the enjoyment that can be had at the coast.

  2. Show the images of UK sea life.

    Explain that the UK is surrounded by the sea, and our waters provide the habitat for over 44,000 different species of sea life. Indeed, our oceans provide us with much more than just leisure opportunities - they are also an important source of food.

  3. Show the images of litter that is regularly washed up on British beaches.

    Point out that scenes like these show us that all is not well in our oceans, and that irresponsible attitudes to litter are having a negative effect on the environment. Explain that plastic, in particular, is a huge problem. Marine scientists are only too aware that many plastics that find their way into the world’s oceans are toxic. Not only do they damage the water quality and the sea life, but they can also enter the food chain when ingested by the fish that ultimately end up on our plates. In the short term, however, plastics pose a greater problem for wildlife such as seabirds, which can become entangled in discarded fishing nets or stuck in plastic bottles, leading to a cruel and painful death.

  4. Fortunately, scientists, marine conservation societies and the UK government agree that we need to do more to protect our seas and oceans, particularly where the use of plastic is concerned. TV presenter Simon Reeve has said, ‘Our planet is becoming poisoned by plastic. The vast amount in our oceans has become an environmental emergency as a direct result of our throwaway society.’

    The Marine Conservation Society has recorded that plastic bottles, carrier bags, nappies, balloons and tiny plastic pieces have been found on almost every beach in the UK. Sadly, this type of litter comes from only one source: humankind.

  5. So, what is to be done about this problem? It might be worth taking a tip from the Christian religion, which, among other world faiths, believes that we have a responsibility to look after the world in which we live. Such a role is known as stewardship. It is based on the belief that we are privileged to have such a wonderful place in which to live. The Bible says, ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it . . . for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.’ This means that we have no right to abuse God’s creation. Instead, we should act responsibly, because Christianity teaches that everything is interdependent. What this means is that any harm that comes to the planet in general eventually ends up harming us directly.

Time for reflection

You may be thinking that plastic pollution in the oceans is much too big a problem for you to be able to do anything about it. However, here are some of the ways in which each of us could make a difference.

- Invest in a reusable water bottle rather than relying on single-use ones.
Take a bag with you when you go to the shops, rather than paying for single-use plastic ones.
Look for alternatives to plastic containers.
- I
f you have the time and the energy, why not join an organized beach clean event?

Lets remember that we each have a part to play in caring for our environment. Lets bear in mind that the ways in which we use the world’s resources have consequences. Lets continue to enjoy the benefits of our coastline in a responsible and environmentally friendly way.


‘Plastic beach’ by Gorillaz

Publication date: February 2018   (Vol.20 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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