SCOOPING and throwing seaweed jelly balls will be the highlight of a FREE, fun and educational event organised by Looe Marine Conservation Group (LMCG) on Sunday, July 3 (10:00am – 12:00 noon), at the Old Heritage Centre in West Looe.
To help stop harmful water balloon litter entering the sea at raft races and regattas, the event is being held ahead of Looe’s Raft Race to increase awareness of the danger that plastic pollution poses to marine wildlife. Jelly balls provide a harmless, but fun, alternative to the tradition of throwing water balloons which can result in, for example, wildlife becoming tangled up in water balloon debris. The jelly is made of agar, an environmentally benign catering product derived from seaweed! So much fun and no harm done.
The fun-filled event will combine learning activities with educational messages about the issues of marine plastic pollution. Designed for children accompanied by an adult, the event activities include a book reading, fishing out harmful plastic in the jelly bath, a competitive litter pick against the clock, jelly scooping and the highlight - throwing jelly at kayakers in the river below. Past and current mayors of Looe plan to attend the Seaweed Jelly Bonanza to endorse the #ThrowJellyNotBalloons campaign message. Edwina Hannaford, Mayor of Looe, said: “I’m fully behind this initiative to remove plastics from our seas. Throwing jelly not balloons is an environmentally responsible and natural solution that protects our waters, but people can still have some fun.”
Tickets for the Seaweed Jelly Bonanza on July are available online via Eventbrite, but will also be available on the door, so come and find out how to make your own seaweed jelly at home. This is a free event but donations are welcome.
The idea of jelly balls made from seaweed was first pioneered by LMCG volunteers back in 2017. In 2019, the Throw Jelly Not Balloons campaign proved popular with the town’s businesses and community and resulted in no balloons being thrown in Looe. It gained media coverage that took the message beyond Cornwall’s borders and has been copied at other raft races and regattas across the county. It is the second time Looe Heritage Centre and Harbour Commission have invited LMCG to hold the Seaweed Jelly Bonanza event to help stop balloon debris being thrown into the Looe River on the day of Looe Raft Race.
The event provides a prelude to the Looe Raft Race on July 10th, when seaweed jelly will once again be distributed by LMCG volunteers from East Looe Quayside.
Laura Walsh, Event Organiser at LMCG said, “We were thrilled that the community in Looe all got on board with our message back in 2019 when we had 100% success in Looe with no balloons thrown at the Looe Raft Race. But with the cancellation of so many community events over the pandemic in the intervening period, this message may have got lost. We felt there was a need to reinforce the message to Throw Jelly Not Balloons to remind everyone that water balloons do not biodegrade. They are harmful to marine animals which mistake them for food.”
MAKING SEAWEED JELLY AT HOME - VIDEO
To make it easier for people to make their own environmentally friendly seaweed jelly at home, a step by step video made with local Looe-based chef Ben Palmer of The Sardine Factory Restaurant demonstrates how to make seaweed jelly from agar powder. The powder is widely used by chefs all over the world as a thickening agent and is totally harmless to the marine environment. The jelly can be made a day or two before needed and doesn’t need to be kept in a fridge! At the Seaweed Jelly Bonanza, attendees can weigh out their own 12g of agar powder, enough to make 1 litre of jelly, complete with cooking instructions.
On the day of the annual raft race in Looe (July 10 at 3 pm), LMCG will take position at several jelly/amnesty stations along the quayside for anyone who didn’t get the message in advance wanting to exchange water balloons for jelly. Free seaweed jelly will be donated to anyone bringing their own bucket.
LMCG is part of a network of volunteer marine groups across Cornwall supported by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and is a member of the Cornwall Plastic Pollution Coalition. Looe achieved the status of Plastic Free Looe by Surfers Against Sewage to recognise the initiatives being undertaken in the town to rid itself of single use plastic.
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