Belfast Telegraph

Two tonnes of waste netted in Northern Ireland litter crusade

By Adrian Rutherford

Two tonnes of rubbish have been removed from a local beauty spot.

A tonne of general waste and a one-tonne fishing net were taken away from the shore along the north coast.

The net had been trapped at Port na Tober for several years.

It follows a clean-up operation involving the National Trust's North Coast Conservation Ranger team, local marine businesses and volunteers.

For the second time Causeway Coasteering and Aquaholics joined forces with Causeway Lass from Ballintoy Harbour, tackling the waves on a mission to collect marine litter.

Last May staff and volunteers worked in pairs swimming into inaccessible bays collecting waste from the shores of the Unesco World Heritage Site.

This litter pick operation had the help of jet ski pilots Gary McCall and Nicholas Todd to access the bays quicker.

Some 45 bags of rubbish, seven tyres, the vast trawler net and numerous plastic bottles were collected from the coastline.

National Trust area ranger Dr Cliff Henry praised the work of those involved.

"Our work is about preserving special places for everyone, forever, which inspired the litter pick operation," he said.

"Now visitors can enjoy the beautiful views on our cliff walks without this washed up rubbish, and natural habitats for our wildlife are protected."

The biggest task was removing the heavy discarded fishing net.

Dr Henry added: "Removing the trawler net from shore was a great challenge, but a brilliant bonus.

"For years I have been irritated by the sight of this large net trapped in Port na Tober and wondered how we could remove it from such a remote spot."

Dr Henry said discarded plastic was a particular issue for our environment.

"Litter is continuously causing many problems for our marine environment. These items collected are not biodegradable and can stay in the environment for decades," he added.

"Every year around 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced and around 40% of that is single-use plastic only used for a few minutes then thrown away."

Earlier this year a survey found the vast majority of litter found on Northern Ireland's beaches is plastic.

An average of 437 items of rubbish were found per 100m of beach here last year - some 82% of this was made of plastic, according to the 2017 Marine Litter Report by green charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

Belfast Telegraph

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