SURFERS TO PADDLE 10,000 STRONG PETITION UP THE 'RIVER ILL' TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

4pm, Monday 9th May, in the Canal Ill in front of the European Parliament, Strasbourg, surfers from the UK and France will paddle a giant inflatable poo and a 10,000 strong petition to the doors of the European Parliament building.

A delegation of campaigners from UK clean water campaigners Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) will be in Strasbourg on the 9th May to lobby MEP's to better protect their health against polluted bathing water.

Joining forces with lobbying partners Surfrider Foundation, the organisations will present a 10,000 strong petition collected by the French based organisation that calls for the EU Bathing Water Directive to be modernised to better protect the health of bathers and recreational water users when they use Europe's lakes, rivers and seas for year round recreation.

The revision of the 29 year old Directive has its second reading today and the surfers are looking for support from MEP's for an amendment that would improve water quality at recognised recreational waters where watersports are routinely undertaken, either for competition, training or where they are actively promoted by a local watersports association.

Much has changed in the way EU citizens use water for bathing since the original Directive came into force in 1976. Since then bathing waters are not just stretches of coastline where holidaymakers roll up their trousers and take a paddle, but vast stretches of water used by hundreds of thousands of surfers, windsurfers, kitesurfers, bodyboarders, kayakers, divers and dinghy sailors. The nature of these sports means recreational water users can have up to 3 times greater a health risk of contracting illness from polluted water than the average bather.

With that in mind the campaigning groups are calling for recognition under the revised Directive so that the most actively used sites receive recognition under these laws and therefore see improvements to minimise human health risks and in improving the water environment.

Without acknowledging this huge group of bathers the EU will have discriminated against those most at risk in a Directive that's core purpose is to protect human health.

Richard Hardy, SAS Campaigns Director says: "The most well utilised recreational watersports sites should benefit from environmental improvements to reduce the impact of sickness from polluted water. Without meaningfully acknowledging this group of bathers in the revised Directive the European Parliament will have discriminated against those most at risk of falling sick. We urge them for their full support again which they have already given us at their first reading".