Plea for help, to protect shores and seas this September

By Democrat reporter

THE Marine Conservation Society‘s annual Great British Beach Clean will begin on 18th September, running for a week, rather than a weekend, of beach cleaning events around the coast of Scotland. And the charity needs more people to organise a beach clean than ever before.

The charity, alongside Scottish Government and VisitScotland, is urging the public to get involved in this year’s event to gather vital information on the most prolific forms of litter polluting the Scottish coastline.

However, this year looks a little different. The Marine Conservation Society is asking individuals to adopt a 100m stretch of beach or shore and organise their own clean-up with a small group, in line with Scottish Government guidance. The charity is hoping more organisers than ever before will take ownership of their local beaches to support the project and collect all important data.

During last year’s Great British Beach Clean weekend, ‘citizen scientists’ across Scotland collected nearly 500 litter items per 100m of beach, with 2,900 volunteers taking part.

This year marks Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, which has highlighted the amazing biodiversity and beauty of the country’s blue spaces, an appreciation which was heightened by lockdown and a mutual desire for open spaces and sea air.

Taking part in this year’s beach clean events is an opportunity to get outdoors and give something back, ensuring that Scotland’s coasts and waters are litter-free and beautiful for generations to come.

As lockdown restrictions eased over the summer months, Scottish beaches received an influx of visitors from near and far. Whilst a welcome boost for domestic tourism, Scotland’s stunning beaches have suffered from an increase in litter. The Marine Conservation Society is asking for more people than ever before to register to organise their own beach clean with friends and family.

By adopting a 100-metre stretch of Scottish coastline and organising a beach clean and litter survey, everyone can make a huge difference to the health of Scottish seas and keep marine life safe.

Catherine Gemmell, Scotland conservation officer for the Marine Conservation Society, said: “It’s never been more vital for people to get involved in the Great British Beach Clean. Whilst it’s fantastic to see more people visiting and enjoying the Scottish coastline, this can’t be to the detriment of our incredible marine life and beautiful beaches.

“This year, we’ll also be recording the number of face masks and gloves we find polluting the beaches, giving us a true sense of how prolific PPE litter has become since lockdown has eased.”

The charity’s data on litter from 26 years of Great British Beach Clean events has supported and informed the introduction of policies and bans, including the development of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), the ban on plastic stemmed cotton buds, the introduction of the 5p single-use carrier bag charge, Scotland’s Marine Litter Strategy and much more.

Natural Environment Minister, Mairi Gougeon, added: “The easing of lockdown restrictions has prompted more people to enjoy local outdoor spaces and beaches. Unfortunately, in some cases, this has resulted in unprecedented levels of littering on some of our beautiful beaches.

“The Great British Beach Clean will help us better understand what impact these recent changes have had on our shores, and I am very grateful to the Marine Conservation Society and all of those volunteers who have already committed to taking part. The beach litter data collected by clean-ups like this is incredibly important as it is used by the Scottish Government and internationally to help develop long-term solutions to marine litter.”

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive, VisitScotland, said: “With 2020 marking Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, it’s been great to see people travelling close to home – with many enjoying our incredible coastlines or spotting marine wildlife.

“This year’s Great British Beach Clean is an opportunity for everyone to give something back and contribute to keeping our beaches beautiful. To protect our precious coasts and waters for future generations, it’s important we all take responsibility for treating our natural environment with respect.”

To sign up as an organiser, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website, here.

You can also find more information on the Great British Beach Clean, here.

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