Puling together to clean up the coastline

More than five tonnes of litter has been removed from some of the more difficult to reach bays along the Dumfries and Galloway coastline.

By Brian Yule
Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 12:58 pm
Beach clean volunteers at Monreith with just a small sample of the five tonnes that has been collected
Beach clean volunteers at Monreith with just a small sample of the five tonnes that has been collected

As part of the Solway Marine Litter Project, supported by the Scottish Government through Marine Fund Scotland, Solway Firth Partnership assisted establishing beach clean groups.

Groups like ONUS (Oceans Need Us) SW Scotland and D&G Eco-warriors make a significant contribution to the health of the sea and coast.

Volunteers often work with farmers to help provide solutions when the beach is difficult to access. On several occasions farmers have provided tractors and trailers on the shore to help transport debris to rubbish pickup points or skips.

There is often a mistaken assumption that debris has originated from commercial fisheries when evidence suggests most litter that has washed into the sea from the land via burns and rivers.

Fishing gear is designed to withstand the action of the sea and even creels that have been twisted and bent by the force of the sea can be repaired and reused.

By collaborating with the Galloway Static Gear Fishermen’s Association volunteers from ONUS are making make sure that where possible local fishing gear is reunited with the people who have lost them.

To make repatriation easier fishermen mark their equipment with their boat registration numbers.

Often the material washed up on beaches can be traced to places from further afield. Most fishboxes appear to have originated from Ireland, while occasionally one will show up from Spain, France and Belgium.

Port William fisherman Paul Maguire said: “Local fishermen are passionate about the marine environment and the need to keep it clean and healthy.

"Improvements continue to be made and the harbour has recently erected fenced compounds to stop fishing equipment going astray and fishermen have a contract with a waste management company to take away and recycle used polystyrene bait boxes”.

Although the litter project only ran for nine months, Solway Firth Partnership will continue to work with volunteers, farmers and fishers to achieve over 200 miles of cleaner coastline.