It's time to turn the tide on litter on our beaches by taking part in the Beachwatch Big Weekend starting today.
The annual event, co-ordinated by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), is in its 18th year and attracts thousands of volunteers across the UK. Northern Ireland has increased the number of beach-cleans from just eight last year to 32 this year, stretching from Magilligan Strand in the north west to Carlingford Lough in the south east.
As a result MCS is appealing for volunteers to give an hour tidying their nearest beach.
Amanda Wilson (21), marine enthusiast and volunteer, is helping to co-ordinate some of the beach-cleans in Northern Ireland.
Amanda explained why it is important to care for our beaches.
“I have seen birds tangled up in bits of plastic and tin or struggling to free themselves from rope — it is heart-rending,” she said. “This is all litter that we abandon in the sea or on the beaches. We want people to come down to their nearest beach and take part in an event that will not only make the beach look great for visitors, but will also help MCS identify where the litter comes from and try to stop it at source.”
Amanda, who has just graduated from Cambridge University, is embarking on a career in marine biology.
“There are school groups, scouts, National Trust volunteers and individuals taking part in this weekend’s beach-cleans,” she said.
“Last year we had a very poor turnout of volunteers compared to other parts of the UK, so we’re hoping to improve this year. We are particularly keen to get more volunteers around the north coast and the Bangor/Ballyholme coast, which are perhaps the most important for tourism.”
Beach-cleans last about an hour and organisers will provide gloves, bags and litter-pickers.
To find out about a beach-clean near you, visit the website www.mcsuk.org and click on ‘beachwatch’ or you can contact Amanda Wilson, MCS volunteer on 07769 291675.
WHERE THE CLEAN-UPS WILL TAKE PLACE:
- Magilligan Strand, Co Londonderry
- Portstewart Strand, Co Antrim
- Portrush, Co Antrim
- Rathlin Church Bay, Rathlin Island
- Ballycastle, Co Antrim
- Carnlough, Co Antrim
- Carnfunnock, Larne
- Sandy Bay, Larne
- Larne Lough
- Ballylumford Harbour
- Brown’s Bay, Islandmagee
- Portmuck Harbour, Larne
- Whitehead, Co Antrim
- Marine Highway Beach, | Carrickfergus
- Belfast Road Beach, Carrickfergus
- Loughshore Park, Jordanstown
- Hazelbank, Jordanstown
- Grey Point, Helen’s Bay
- Ballyholme Beach, Bangor
- Ballywalter Beach, Newtownards
- Ballymartin, Kilkeel
- Nicholson Strand, Dunnaval, | near Kilkeel
- Millisle Lagoon Beach
- Castle Espie, Newtownards
- Floodgates, Strangford Lough
- Castleward Bay, Strangford
- Killard Point, Downpatrick
- Murlough, Dundrum
- Newcastle, Co Down
- Kilkeel north and south strands
- Coney Island, Ardglass
- Warrenpoint, Carlingford Lough