Drastic plastic ‘is a threat to beach’

A TEAM of local Marine Conservation Society (MCS) volunteers helped clean up 657 items of litter at Brown’s Bay, Islandmagee at the weekend.

Saturday’s purge on rubbish is part of the charity’s Beachwatch project, the UK’s biggest national beach litter survey and clean-up.

Led by Elena Aceves-Cully from Ballystrudder, 17 volunteers collected and recorded the rubbish along the beautiful stretch of sand.

The data will help MCS identify the main sources of litter at Browns’ Bay and keep the issue of the dangers of marine litter high on the local agenda.

The most common types of litter found on the day were all plastic – drinks bottles, crisps and sweets and shopping bags).

“It was very sad to see how a small crab had been suffocated to its death by a plastic bag,” said Elena, who added: “Unusual items found included a car tyre, two large lobster pots and children’s shoes. There were also significant numbers pieces of rope and of fishing line.”

The survey appeared to show that the major culprits for beach littering are visitors and anglers, who may forget to use public bins when taking food or drink, having a smoke or when disposing of their fishing gear.

Elena added: “Often people who visit the beach do not use bins provided, spoiling the beach for other visitors.

“Larne Council needs to ensure that adequate bins are provided and emptied regularly, but most importantly individuals must take responsibility for their own actions, and remember never to leave litter on the beach. It was also disappointing to find several dog faeces, despite the fact that dog litter bins are available nearby.

“All participants expressed an interest in doing this again in the future. I think it is a great way to make children in particular more aware of litter and of the need of keeping beaches clean.”

The MSC member expressed her gratitude to Mullaghdugh Primary School for publicising the event and involving some of their children and their parents and also to Larne Council for helping to organise the event.

She added: “I am also very grateful to local First Responders volunteers, who while on duty came to help out, and to Mullaghdugh Primary School for involving so many of their parents and their children in the event.”

Beachwatch Big Weekend began on Friday morning, when volunteers from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board were joined by members of the public at Ballylumford Harbour beach, where they removed more than 600 items from the rocky shore.

On Monday morning, 21 young volunteers from Kilcoan Primary School tackled the litter at Portmuck Harbour and pupils from Larne Grammar School and children from the Larne YMCA removed 483 wet wipes from Sandy Bay.

“In total,” said MSC organiser in Northern Ireland, Amanda Wilson, “202 local volunteers have removed 6,278 items including an almost-life-size teddy-donkey, a massive piece of foam insulation, a broken head torch, 27 tyres, 738 wet wipes, a swimming award badge and three pairs of very sandy underwear.”

Anyone who would like to participate in future clean-ups should contact Amanda at manda_wilson@hotmail.co.uk