Guernsey Beachwatch volunteers out in force to collect litter on 18 & 19 September 2010

September 16th, 2010 by States of Guernsey Environment Department

On 18 and 19 September 2010 hundreds of Islanders will be combing the Island’s beaches as part of the Marine Conservation Society annual Beachwatch survey, which is organised locally by the Environment Department.

Beachwatch is the largest annual beach litter clean and survey in the UK, with thousands of volunteers combining efforts to clean dozens of beaches around the coast on the same weekend.

Beachwatch volunteers stand by sea shore litter collected from Champ Rouget in 2008 (click image to expand) ©RLLord

In last year’s survey the Channel Islands again recorded the lowest density for Sewage Related Debris (SRD) in Britain at 0.9 % of total litter (1% of total litter in 2008). The national average for SRD on the British coastline in 2009 was 5% of total litter, with the highest level of SRD recorded was in Scotland where SRD was 19% of all beach litter found in the survey. This highlights once again the very low contribution sewage litter makes to our beaches.

Litter from beach visitors was the main litter source recorded in 2009 representing 36% of all litter recorded in the Channel Islands. Fishing litter was the second largest source of litter recorded in the Channel Islands at 18% of total found.

Volunteers in Herm have also signed up to participate by cleaning up and surveying their island’s beaches.

It’s estimated over 200 volunteers will be involved including St Andrew’s Primary, La Mare de Carteret Primary, The Grammar School and Elizabeth College pupils, as well as voluntary groups such as St John’s WI, The Leos, Guernsey Conservation Volunteers, G-CAN (Guernsey Climate Action Network) and Sustainable Guernsey. Staff from Royal Bank of Canada, Schroders, Royal Bank of Scotland, Intertrust Group and KPMG plus numerous families and individuals have all confirmed they’ll be taking part in the survey to collect data on marine litter.

Environment Minister Deputy Peter Sirett said “Marine and coastal litter is a growing global concern. Litter left on the beach or washed up on shore is an eyesore that can affect our visitor economy, but can also injure beach visitors and have fatal consequences for marine life. We’re delighted that so many volunteers have signed up again for Beachwatch and their support for this national survey is appreciated. I’d also like to thank all those people that we know habitually pick up litter whenever they’re walking on the coast all year round – they play a valuable role in helping to keep our beaches safe and attractive.”

Volunteers are asked to survey a minimum 100 metre stretch of coastline and record all litter that they find and clean it up. The results are then published in the annual Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch report. The information helps to guide national policy on tackling the problem of marine litter.

Marine litter can directly harm wildlife as a result of entanglement and ingestion. Many marine mammals (dolphins, porpoise seals, and whales) and turtles die every year from entanglement in discarded fishing gear or ingestion of plastics.

If you would be interested in taking part in a Beachwatch event this weekend please contact the Environment Services Unit, Tel: 717200

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