Plastic bottles ‘dumped on 83% of Irish shorelines’

Call for authorities North and south to introduce ‘deposit on return scheme’ for drinks containers

 Claire Casey and Clare McMorrow, trainees from Ulster Wildlife’s living seas team, collecting marine litter during a snorkel at Rossglass, Co Down.

Claire Casey and Clare McMorrow, trainees from Ulster Wildlife’s living seas team, collecting marine litter during a snorkel at Rossglass, Co Down.

 

Governments on both sides of the Border should introduce a “deposit on return” system for drinks containers in order to reduce littering, the non-governmental organisation Coastwatch has said.

To mark World Ocean Day, Coastwatch published the results of its latest marine litter survey which found plastic bottles dumped in more than 83 per cent of the 525 shoreline sites, of 100m to 500m in length, surveyed.

The survey was conducted in autumn 2016, and found that plastic bottles were the “number one macro-litter item” on the island, closely followed by other drinks containers, lids and cans.

If the plastic bottles counted in the survey were “distributed evenly over the shore” there would be 36 for every kilometre of the Irish coast, it said.

Coastwatch co-ordinator Karin Dubsky said “deposit on return” schemes for drinks containers were a “proven method of reducing this particularly stubborn widespread litter load to near zero”.

“It would be a win win action, creating jobs and supports for refill and recycling, rather than down-cycling or incineration which is the standard fate of a mixed rubbish litter bag picked from the shore,”she said.

Coastwatch said Ireland had committed to achieving “good environmental status” under EU marine law by 2020.

“There is a growing body of evidence on harm done by marine litter – especially micro-litter which is ingested by a wide range of marine life including life which we eat whole like shellfish,” Ms Dubsky said.

Environmental initiative

In a separate environmental initiative, a west Cork fisherman has devised a solar-powered navigation light which will allow him to return safely to shore during winter months.

Bere islander John Orpen, who catches shellfish, has secured Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) support for his prototype.

The device is one of 153 projects approved for funding under the EU Fisheries Local Action Group (Flag) programme, announced by Minister for Marine Michael Creed in Ballycotton, Co Cork on Thursday.

Marine tourism, aquaculture and seafood development projects are also recipients of the funding which is administered by BIM on behalf of Mr Creed’s department.

More than 200 project applications were received under the scheme in seven designated coastal communities.