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Marine charity urges beach lovers in Northern Ireland to join coastal clean up


Marine Conservation Society says supporters are key to cleaner beaches 

From syringes to ceramics, plasters to panty lines, fishing line to fence posts and plastics to pushbikes – it’s all been found on Northern Ireland’s beaches. 

Now, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the UK’s leading marine charity, says it needs more volunteers to clean up the Province’s beaches if scientists are to build up a comprehensive picture of the amount of litter which ends up on the beaches around Northern Ireland. 

This year’s MCS Great Northern Irish Beach Clean takes place on the 16th to the 19th of September, and will involve thousands of volunteers taking to the beaches all around the UK coast.  

“Beach cleaning is fantastic fun,” says MCS Beachwatch Manager, Lauren Eyles. “Spending time near the sea always lifts people’s spirits and combined with that  personal feel good factor, data from NI will join that from over 100 countries worldwide as part of the International Coastal Clean-up organised by Ocean Conservancy which provides a global snapshot of beach litter.”     

During last year’s event in Northern Ireland, just seven beaches were cleaned by 135 volunteers, and although it was a slight improvement on 2014 when just five beaches were cleaned by less than 120 volunteers, MCS is concerned the lack of beach cleaners could plummet Northern Ireland back in to the beach litter lethargy which it’s suffered from in recent years. 

In 2011, a fantastic  457 volunteers cleaned 23 beaches and MCS says the more beaches that are cleaned and surveyed the clearer the litter picture will become in Northern Ireland, giving the charity the information  it needs to work with industry and the public to stop the rubbish getting there in the first place. 

Lauren Eyles, says it’s vital that more beaches in Northern Ireland are surveyed: “As a charity we rely heavily on volunteer support either at events or financially. The Great Northern Ireland Beach Clean is a great way for our supporters to get hands on and really make a difference. We’d love to see more people out on Northern Irish beaches this year and more beaches cleaned.”

Litter levels in Northern Ireland increased considerably between 2014 and 2015 and the Province had the highest litter density of all the home nations, with levels reaching near to where they were in 2012.

7,030 litter items were collected from a total of 7 surveyed beaches during the Great Northern Ireland Beach Clean in 2015. An average of 6,695.2 litter items/km were recorded compared to 1,644.1 in 2014, representing over a 300% increase. 

“Some of our best loved marine wildlife is under threat from hazardous litter in our seas. Hundreds of species of marine wildlife accidentally eat, or become tangled up in litter - and it’s also hazardous to beach visitors and sea users,” says Lauren Eyles. 
To get involved in The Great Northern Irish Beach Clean visit  www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch  or telephone 01989 566017.

For more information, click here.