Environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has released its latest Marine Litter Report, which reveals more than double the amount of litter on Northern Ireland’s beaches from the same period last year.
The 2021 Marine Litter Report (reports are published retrospectively) shows that, on average, 762 items of litter were found per 100 metres of beach surveyed; up from 375 items the previous year. A total of 36,587 items of litter were found throughout the survey period on Northern Ireland’s twelve survey beaches.
The surveys in Northern Ireland are funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the data collected is fed into the International OSPAR Commission database to help in developing a global scientific understanding of this significant problem and to inform actions to address the issue.
Community-based campaign, Live Here Love Here is supporting communities across Northern Ireland to pitch in and help tackle the issue at local level and has issued a final call to apply for its Marine Litter Capital Grants Scheme. Funded by DAERA, applications are open to organisations and groups from across Northern Ireland until 16 September 2022.
Now in its second year, the scheme is making £198,000 available for ideas that help to prevent litter from entering Northern Ireland’s waterways, including lakes, coastlines and riverbanks.
The Marine Litter Report once again names and shames the worst culprits in terms of the type of materials found at the beach. Of the top ten most recorded items, five were made of plastic and polystyrene, many of which were broken down into small pieces. 81% of all litter recorded was plastic, which commonly includes drinks and fast food or snack packaging and lids.
Other commonly found items included discarded PPE as well as short pieces of string, cord and rope, and heavy-duty gloves, which saw a resurgence during the survey period, despite having decreased steadily in previous years.
Commenting on the Marine Litter Report, Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA said, “Naturally, I am disappointed that the levels of litter recorded on our beautiful coastline increased during 2021. It is especially disappointing considering the downward trend which started back in 2018.
I remain optimistic, however, that the coordinated approach my Department has adopted, including forthcoming legislation to increase the maximum fixed penalty available to councils for litter offences to £200, will ultimately be successful and the blight of plastic pollution will one day be a thing of the past.
I am proud that my Department has sponsored initiatives such as the Marine Litter Capital Grants scheme which is managed by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. The scheme funded a range of novel and interesting projects during 2021. The 2022 scheme is now open for applications and I would encourage everyone to get involved.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has removed litter from our environment and would encourage everyone not to litter; please leave no trace.”
Helen Tomb, from Live Here Love Here partnership, which is managed by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, and which administers the marine litter grants, added:
“Marine litter, particularly plastics, has an incredibly negative effect on animals and eventually on humans, as it proceeds up the food chain. We are proud to deliver the Marine Litter Capital Grants scheme for a second consecutive year. Funded by DAERA, it was extremely successful last year with a real mix of practical and creative entries. The overall aim is to prevent litter from reaching the marine environment, and as 80 per cent of marine litter comes from land-based activities, grants are available for projects right across Northern Ireland. The deadline for applications is fast approaching, so we would strongly encourage those eligible to apply and help us to make Northern Ireland cleaner, greener and safer.”
Read the full Marine Litter Report at www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/marinelitter. More information on the Marine Litter Capital Grants is available at www.liveherelovehere.org/marinelittergrants.
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