Take3 Guernsey volunteers pick-up Petit Port’s litter

January 27th, 2014 by Richard Lord

In mid-January 2014, Karen Marsh, Take3 Guernsey member, instigated a beach clean by posting on the group’s Facebook page to ask if anyone was organising one.

The Guernsey volunteer group takes its name from the non-profit Take3 organisation founded in Australia in 2009, which “asks everyone to simply take three pieces of rubbish with you when visiting a beach, and raising awareness of the consequences of plastic debris on the world’s oceans.”

Rachel Burton replied to Karen that Petit Port beach on Guernsey’s south coast was heavily littered from washed-up debris after the strong storms of early January 2014 and needed to be cleaned.

The beach at Petit Port on 19 January 2014 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The beach at Petit Port on 19 January 2014 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Jan Dockerill of the States of Guernsey Environment Department suggested that volunteer litter pickers meet on the beach at 11 am on Sunday 19 January 2014 to begin the clean-up.

Some of the plastic litter at the foot of the cliff at Petit Port on 16 January 2014 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Some of the plastic beach litter prior to the 19 January beach clean that had been collected and placed behind the chain link fence that protects beach visitors from rock falls at Petit Port. (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Some Take3 Guernsey members visited the Petit Port sea shore prior to the scheduled beach clean to access the volume of rubbish, collect what litter they could, and store it behind a chain-link fence that protects visitors from rock falls from the cliff above.

Although the chain-link fence prevents rubbish put behind it from washing out to sea, Jan Dockerill advised against storing the beach litter there because of the risk of rock fall, which the chain link fence is designed to catch.

Petit Port beach clean in progress on 19 January 2014 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Petit Port beach clean in progress on 19 January 2014 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

She advised in future to store the litter to the east of the lower steps on a raised grassy area.

The beach at Petit Port is accessible from the cliff path by descending over 290 steps.

There was a suggestion to remove the litter by boat, but this was determined to be too risky, and there was nowhere for a boat to take the rubbish for disposal.

The railings outline the direction of the steps to the top of the cliff above Petit Port (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The railings leading to the right of the image outline the direction of the steps to the top of the cliff above Petit Port (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

So the only way to remove the beach litter was by hauling it up the steps.

Plastic litter lying on piles of seaweed at the top of the beach at Petit Port (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Plastic litter lying on piles of seaweed at the top of the beach at Petit Port (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Nylon rope and netting had to be separated from piles of seaweed lying on the Petit Port sea shore (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Nylon rope and netting had to be separated from piles of seaweed lying on the Petit Port sea shore (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Some volunteers climbed the steps four or five times while other volunteers carefully cleared litter from the beach by going through piles of seaweed.

Airy Cleere hauls two bags of beach litter over 290 steps to the top of the cliff above Petit Port (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Airy Cleere hauls two bags of beach litter over 290 steps to the top of the cliff above Petit Port (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Deputy Yvonne Burford hauled some bags of litter up the steps with her son and commented on the excellent workout it provided. It got ones heart pumping and was a good workout for the legs.

Caroline Drake climbs to the top of the Petit Port steps with a bag of litter from the sea shore (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Caroline Drake reaches the top of the Petit Port steps with a bag of litter from the sea shore (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

It took many pairs of hands to haul all the beach litter up the steps.

Some of the bundles of knotted rope were so heavy they had to be cut into smaller bundles so they could be lifted up the stairs.

Alicja Chrzanowska made several trips up the Petit Port steps with bags of litter from Petit Port (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Alicja Chrzanowska made several trips up the Petit Port steps with bags of litter from Petit Port (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Jan Dockerill, commenting on BBC Guernsey on 20 January 2014, said that with the prevailing south-westerly winds, Petit Port is a catch pit for seaborne litter.

She estimated that about 50 bags of litter had been collected from the beach along with plastic fish boxes and other plastic containers.

Philip Haynes, with Beatrice Haynes; and Amelie Le Prevost with Joanne Le Prevost took part in the the Petit Port beach cleaning operation (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Philip Haynes, with Beatrice Haynes in pink; and Amelie Le Prevost in front of Joanne Le Prevost, took part in the Petit Port beach cleaning operation (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Christopher Mourant thought the litter brought to the top of the cliff probably weighed over one tonne.

The litter included plastic bottles – some of domestic origin and some commercial containers. Jan Dockerill said that some of the litter appeared to originate from the land where litter had been blown out to sea, and then brought back to shore.

There were also large numbers of smaller pieces of plastic such as bottle tops and stirrers, and a number of shotgun cartridges.

The Marsh family on the left, Jon Pettitt in the yellow sweatshirt; Chris Hudson, Martyn Tolcher, Jan Dockerill, Ramsey and Deputy Yvonne Burford (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

(left to right) Adrian Marsh (black Atec t-shirt), Oliver Marsh (blue boiler suit), Jon Le Tocq behind Karen Marsh (grey Atec sweatshirt), Jon Pettitt (yellow sweatshirt), Chris Hudson (sunglasses), Martyn Tolcher (red top), Jan Dockerill (green top), Ramsey and Deputy Yvonne Burford (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

But the predominant litter was from the fishing industry, which Jan Dockerill estimated accounted for 85% to 90% of the litter found at Petit Port.

There were fish boxes of French origin and a large quantity of netting and Nylon rope and twine.

Anne Sandwith who was actively involved in the Petit Port beach clean joins the photographed group (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Anne Sandwith, in light blue, who was actively involved in the Petit Port beach clean, joins the photographed group (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Some of this debris was damaged fishing gear such as a broken crab pot or pieces of a torn net, and some of it could have washed over board, such as a fisherman’s glove or a fish box, but there was also large quantities of litter that was most likely intentionally discarded over the side of a boat.

Jon Le Tocq of Storm Force Fitness begins the climb up the step from Petit Port beach carrying three bags full of litter on his shoulders (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Jon Le Tocq of Storm Force Fitness begins the climb up the step from Petit Port beach carrying three bags full of litter on his shoulders (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Fishermen repair torn nets at sea. To repair nets, fishermen cut off short lengths of Nylon twine, which may be discarded into the sea, where it achieves neutral buoyancy below the surface, before washing up on a shore.

(left to right) Jon Pettitt, Ryan Le Guilcher, Pete Johnson, Joanne Le Prevost take the last of the litter from Petit Port sea shore (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

(left to right) Jon Pettitt, Ryan Le Guilcher, Pete Johnson, Joanne Le Prevost take the last of the litter from Petit Port sea shore (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Throwing litter overboard is illegal in European seas.

Beach cleaners and other sea shore litter collectors need to contact fishermen associations and other maritime organisations to ask them to contact their members about the maritime litter problem to encourage people at sea not to throw any litter overboard.

There is photographic evidence that marine litter causes marine life injuries and fatalities at sea. It does enter the food chain, and it can cause injury to humans visiting the shore.

Christopher Mourant observed the pile of litter brought up over 290 steps from the Petit Port sea shore (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Christopher Mourant observed the pile of litter brought up over 290 steps from the Petit Port sea shore (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Jan Dockerill arranged for States Works to remove the litter from the top of the steps by the cliff path above Petit Port on Monday morning.

The collection of debris brought to the top of the Petit Port steps by volunteers and removed by States Works on Monday 20 January 2014 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The collection of debris brought to the top of the Petit Port steps by volunteers and removed by States Works on Monday 20 January 2014 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Less than twenty-four hours after the beach clean, more debris had washed up on Petit Port.

Litter collected from the beach at Petit Port on 20 January 2014 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Litter collected from the beach at Petit Port on 20 January 2014 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Guernsey’s sea shore is impacted by sea borne litter and domestic litter all year long, which is why Take3 Guernsey exists to try and keep Guernsey’s sea shore as litter free as possible.

 

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