Seaweed clearance at L’Eree by the States of Guernsey Environment Department

July 21st, 2010 by States of Guernsey Environment Department

The recent spring tides and south-westerly winds have caused large amounts of seaweed to be deposited at L’Eree. A significant proportion of the seaweed now lies above the high water mark and will not be naturally removed by tidal action for several weeks. The Environment Department has therefore arranged for the seaweed to be removed from the main recreation area of L’Eree on Thursday 22nd July from 7am when tidal conditions are most favourable. It is anticipated that the works will take most of the day. Works to remove seaweed at Cobo and L’Ancresse will follow within the next few days.

Seaweed on the shore at L'Ancresse

Seaweed will be removed by a JCB and a lorry and taken down the beach to the low water mark. The seaweed is then normally dispersed naturally by the currents on the next high tide. This allows any sand removed by the JCB to stay on the beach. Wave action will allow the sand and pebbles to travel back up the beach during the summer, helping to prevent degradation and loss of the beach material. If the beach was to be raked regularly the sand and other sediments would be broken up, leading to beach sediment more easily being taken out to sea and the beach’s natural coastal defences would be reduced.

In the past the seaweed washed onto Guernsey’s beaches was a valuable resource for farmers and growers and was gathered and used on the land as fertilizer but this practice is now undertaken by only a handful of individuals.

The Environment Department endeavours to maintain a balance between the recreational needs of residents and visitors and the care of native wildlife so seaweed is only removed after careful consideration. The strandline seaweed on L’Eree provides a valuable food source for the wading birds such as Turnstones and Oystercatchers for which Guernsey is well known.

The reason for the steady decline in numbers of wading birds on British beaches has been largely attributed by the conservation organisations to the increased use of mechanical rakes to clear beaches of litter and seaweed.

Guernsey’s most popular beaches are cleaned of visitor litter and marine borne waste such as fishing net by hand daily during the summer months by a dedicated beach cleaning team and inspected by Environment Department staff. The coastal zone is a living natural environment and vegetation is only removed if essential. The Environment Department’s approach to managing the strandline is supported by La Société Guernesiaise, English Nature and the Marine Conservation Society.

Please direct any questions concerning this media release to Denise Quevatre at the States of Guernsey Environment Department on 717200.

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