Help is needed to clean up our dirty beaches

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

AS the summer moves on, and each night the bathers and sand­castle­builders van­ish from our beaches, two con­stants re­main – lit­ter and wildlife, never a good com­bi­na­tion.

From gulls with their bills stuck in drinks cans and ot­ters en­twined in plas­tic rings, our ca­sual dump­ing of ev­ery­day waste on Bri­tain’s beaches con­tin­ues to cause great con­cern among the con­ser­va­tion­ists.

The Ma­rine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety claims that our sea­sides were lit­ter-free just a few gen­er­a­tions ago, whereas on some beaches these days, fam­ily pic­nics and beach-games take place among all man­ner of de­tri­tus, in­clud­ing crisp pack­ets, plas­tic bot­tles, cig­a­rette stubs, fish­ing line, cot­ton bud sticks, con­doms, nap­pies and tonnes of plas­tic and poly­styrene.

Most of the rub­bish is re­cy­clable and, in an at­tempt to high­light the is­sue and do some­thing about the prob­lem, the MCS is look­ing for vol­un­teers for The Great Bri­tish Beach Clean from Septem­ber 19 to 22.

In a sim­i­lar clean-up cam­paign last year, an av­er­age of 2,309 pieces of lit­ter were picked per kilo­me­tre cleaned.

MCS Beach­watch of­fi­cer Lau­ren Eyles said: “We are hop­ing for 10,000 vol­un­teers to visit their lo­cal beach, to give it a good clean and help break the record for the great­est num­ber of beaches cleaned in one event.

“We aim to lit­ter-pick at least 400 beaches in four days and to carry out a lit­ter sur­vey which will give us valu­able data to help re­duce lit­ter in the fu­ture.” The MSC be­lieves that, by ask­ing vol­un­teers to record the names of any branded items which con­tin­u­ally ap­pear in the col­lec­tions, they will be able to ap­proach in­di­vid­ual man­u­fac­tur­ers to dis­cuss ways to re­duce the amount of rub­bish end­ing up on our shores and beaches.

Dur­ing sev­eral beach cleans along the north Kent coast, a large num­ber of plas­tic sy­ringes were found. Once the make of sy­ringe was iden­ti­fied, so was the com­pany in Lon­don which was be­ing paid to in­cin­er­ate them. It been dump­ing the sy­ringes in the Thames.

Much of the lit­ter found on our beaches is care­lessly dropped, but with wind and tides it can soon be car­ried out to sea, where in­evitably it will meet rub­bish com­ing ashore from else­where. Ma­rine lit­ter af­fects more than 260 of our ma­rine species — ei­ther be­cause they ac­ci­den­tally eat float­ing rub­bish, or they get trapped and in­jured by it.

A a sperm whale was re­cently found with more than 200kg of lit­ter in its stom­ach, in­clud­ing fish­ing nets, plas­tic bags and even a plas­tic comb.

To be­come a Beach­watch vol­un­teer or for more in­for­ma­tion, visit beach­watch@mc­suk.org or call 01989 566017

For read­ers with a real in­ter­est in the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment, the MCS Sea Cham­pi­ons is a na­tional vol­un­teer pro­gramme of­fer­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties in the UK.

Launched in 2012 and funded by Marks & Spencer, the pro­gramme of­fers vol­un­teers the chance to take part in ma­rine an­i­mal sur­veys, beach cleans and lit­ter sur­veys and var­i­ous cam­paigns to help save our seas, shores and wildlife. Sea cham­pi­ons get sup­port from a vol­un­teer co­or­di­na­tor and ac­cess to re­sources and train­ing.

If any­one gets in­volved, whether as sea cham­pion or a beach-cleaner, let us know how you got on.

●● Lit­ter pick­ers help­ing out the Ma­rine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety

The Laugh­ing Bad­ger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

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