Anti-litter efforts pay off at Brown’s Bay

Beach clean-up volunteers. Submitted image
Beach clean-up volunteers. Submitted image

The biggest collection of litter at Browns’ Bay to-date took place last Saturday thanks to a huge turnout of volunteers.

The Great Northern Irish Beach Clean is the flagship project of Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which organises beach litter surveys and clean-ups taking place the third week of September every year throughout UK.

Led by Elena Aceves-Cully from Ballystrudder, over 50 volunteers, including parents and children from Mullaghdough Primary School, collected and recorded rubbish along the beautiful stretch of the beach.

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

The beach litter survey recorded a record total of 515 items, with the top item found being plastic pieces (119), cigarette stubbs (45), crisp, sweet, lolly and sandwich wrappers (28), metal lids/caps (22) and wood lolly sticks (21). At least 6 dog faeces were noted, 1 of which was bagged.

In general, the amount of litter found has dramatically decreased when compared with last year’s annual survey (781), which can be related to more frequent cleaning sweeps by Council staff but also more responsible beach users.

Elena Aceves-Cully added:

“Often people who visit the beach do not use bins provided, spoiling the beach for other visitors. Individuals must take responsibility for their own actions, and remember never to leave litter on the beach.

“We found an area in particular (near the concrete steps) where some irresponsible dog owners are still leaving their dog’s poo behind.

“Dog owners should think about the serious danger they are putting others like children playing on the beach who may become in contact with dog excrement.”

“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.

Elena expressed her gratitude to Mullaghdough Primary School for publicising the event and involving some of their children and their parents and others who had supported the event:

“I would like to thank Larne Borough Council for providing us with cleaning equipment and materials as well as in picking up the rubbish after the event. The environmentally friendly compacting bins in place at Browns Bay ensure that no matter how many visitors are using the beach, these don’t fill up. I am also very grateful to Mullaghdough Primary School for involving so many of their parents and their children in the event.

“Again, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the serious erosion process take place at Browns Bay, where most of the original rocks (which protect the sand) have been washed away in the last 10 years I have been cleaning this beach. Also, the stream which flows into the sea has carved its way through the beach, contributing to this erosion. I am calling on East and Mid Antrim Council and our NI Assembly to start taking action and take some low cost measures like burying this stream (using pipes) so this erosion stops.

Beachwatch took place over the weekend of the 16th and 19th of September 2016 on beaches all over the UK. Data recorded at each survey has been sent to the MCS to identify the quantities and sources of marine and coastal litter. MCS will use these results at a national level to campaign against these sources of litter and this can be found at www.mcsuk.org.