Clean Coast Week — which began on June 3 and which continues until June 15 — is designed to address the millions of tonnes of marine litter entering our seas and oceans, resulting in environmental, economic, health and aesthetic challenges.
Clean Coasts are inviting volunteers to join this global coastal clean-up helping remove marine litter from our coastline, and in turn protecting coastal habitats and marine life.
In previous years, more than 100 events were organised with an estimated 800,000 volunteers participating internationally — successfully collecting more than 8 million kilograms of litter.
Clean Coasts is made up of two elements; Clean Coasts volunteering and the Green Coast Award.
The aim of the Green Coast Award is to recognise beaches of high environmental quality, and must have excellent water quality as well as an effective and appropriate management to ensure the protection of the natural environment.
The Clean Coasts volunteering effort engages communities in the protection and conservation of their local coastal environment.
There are currently more than 500 registered Clean Coasts groups, who, in 2015 removed over a half a million pieces of marine litter from the coast of Ireland.
In an associated development, Bord Iascaigh Mhara is currently supporting three fishing ports to establish the ‘Fishing for Litter’ project — an initiative that encourages fishermen to take ashore the litter they encounter at sea in the course of their work.
Some 24 trawlers in three key ports — Clogherhead, Castletownbere and Union Hall — are currently taking part in the pilot initiative. With the overall aim of reducing plastic in the ocean and its threat to sea life and marine habitats, research estimates that 80% of maritime waste is plastic.
BIM provides vessels with large heavy duty bags to collect marine litter caught in their nets, and which are deposited on the quayside for collection and disposal organised by BIM and local port authorities.
“We have the Fishing for Litter bag set near the conveyor and it’s easy for the crew to pick out the marine litter and throw it in the bag as they pick out the catch,” says Alan Smith, skipper of the Celtic Warrior.
“We work with the Clogherhead Development Group in keeping the pier tidy and are happy to do our part, keeping not only the sea, but our fishing grounds clean and healthy”.
BIM aims to build on this pilot initiative to 50 vessels. The scheme is already active and highly successful in the UK and Scotland and underpins EU legislation supporting the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment.
Michael Keatinge, BIM’s Director of Fisheries Development, emphasises the importance of the scheme: “The scheme underpins the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Europe’s current key piece of legislation supporting the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment. One of the key objectives is to reduce plastic in the ocean, which this scheme can do at a very practical level.
“Sustainability is a key driver and priority for BIM and our fishing industry. Participation in this initiative can gain recognition for member vessels and their crews as Fishing for Litter contributes to BIM’s Certification and Sustainability programmes and Bord Bia’s Origin Green sustainability charter.”
View from the lighthouse on the Old Head of Kinsale looking towards Garrettstown. Pic: Dan Linehan