Five pieces of litter for every step on Northern Ireland beaches

An average five pieces of marine litter can be found every step you take on Northern Ireland beaches – that’s according to a new report by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

The recently published report by the environmental charity found an average of 528 items of litter were observed per 100m of beach around Northern Ireland.

From September 2012 to October 2016 over 2000 volunteers surveyed beaches from Runkerry Strand in the North West to Rostrevor in the South East covering a total of 56 km. Over the course of the four years they counted and removed 4,187 bags of rubbish.

The findings are pretty shocking and it is a problem replicated on beaches across Ireland. Rubbish from over flowing bins, microbeads in our care products, litter dropped on the beach, items flushed down the toilet all ends up on our beaches and seas. This litter has a terrible impact on marine life, it contaminates fish and shellfish and damages boats.

Daming as the numbers are, it is not all doom and gloom, with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful unveiling a series of initiatives to tackle the problem of marine litter on our coast.

  • Preventing and reducing marine litter pollution in the North-East Atlantic and its impact on marine
    organisms, habitats, public health and safety and reduce the socioeconomic costs it causes.
  • Resulting in collective action to prevent litter entering the marine environment.
  • Removing litter from the marine environment where practical and feasible.
  • Enhancing knowledge and awareness on marine litter.
  • Coordinating work to improve the evidence base on the impacts of litter on the marine environment.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful recently reported that councils in NI spent £43m cleaning up litter in 2015 and 2016.

Separately, the Fishing for Litter project – funded by DAERA – is being extended across Northern Ireland Fishing ports. The Scheme aims to reduce plastic in the ocean as it threatens sea life and marine habitats; 80% of waste at sea is estimated to be plastic.Initially launched in Ardglass and extended to Kilkeel and Portavogie will now be introduced to Warrenpoint Harbour.

You can read the full report here.


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