Clean up our coast | Southern Star

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West Cork volunteers work tirelessly to help keep our coastline free of litter and now they urge others to get involved. Nothing could be simpler either thanks to a new initiative: two minutes is enough.

Clean Coasts is calling on the people of West Cork to commit to a # 2minutebeachclean this summer – and beyond.

The charity program, run by An Taisce, engages communities in the protection of Ireland’s beaches, seas and marine life.

They run several campaigns in Ireland including ‘Think Before You Rinse’, ‘Beat the Microbead’, and now the # 2minutebeachclean which really engaged the public.

There are currently over 1,400 registered Clean Coasts groups and volunteers, many of them in West Cork.

Among them is Mark McCarthy who has been involved with Clean Coasts since 2017.

He lives in Schull with his wife and two children and says that where possible you will find him on the water or on the shore.

“I grew up here and after many years of traveling I wanted to settle down and raise a family.

“We love the outdoors, especially the sea, and my job as a motor boat instructor means spending a lot of time on the water. I also do volunteer work with the Irish Coast Guard in Schull, of which I am very proud. ‘

He started volunteering with Clean Coasts after seeing some of their initiatives shared online, and he’ll be sweeping local beaches at least once a week in the winter and summer, he always has a blue bag handy. wherever he goes.

Its main spots are Barleycove, Balyrisode, Schull and some of the local islands in Roaringwater Bay.

“I mainly target marine plastic and objects that wash up on the shore. Unfortunately a lot of what I think it comes from the fishing industry, ”he said.

“Probably the craziest thing I found was a submarine test torpedo. I called a friend in the navy and he sent a few guys to pick it up. I also find a lot of North American lobster labels.

Despite the volume of garbage he collects, he doesn’t feel discouraged or discouraged by people’s behavior.

“On the contrary, the good behavior of people encourages me.

“I am always inspired by others who clean the coast themselves. “

To participate in # 2minutebeachclean, simply take two minutes to pick up the trash you see, share a photo on social media by tagging Clean Coasts and using the hashtag # 2minutebeachclean, then dispose of it properly.

“It’s a fantastic way to show that even the smallest handles can make a difference. It’s a way to use your phone and social networks to do good and is really powerful, ”said Mark.

Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts added: “By participating, not only can you have an immediate positive impact on the marine environment and wildlife, but it is also a chance to spend time outdoors by the sea. , exercise and even practice mindfulness. “

All those who register will receive a reusable individual beach cleaning kit containing a tote bag and beach gloves. cleancoasts.org.

Mark, who volunteers with the Irish Coast Guard in Schull, says the initiative is a powerful way to use social media for something positive.

Dead sea birds entangled in fishing line

Retired UK college principal Danny Smith first heard of Clean Coasts in The south star in the fall of 2020.

“I went to the website and liked what I saw. I am very interested in nature conservation and sustainability and originally wanted to work in this area. My first job after graduation was at Country Park Warden on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.

“I wanted to get involved locally and Clean Coasts presented a great opportunity,” said Danny, who, with his wife Marian, moved from the UK to their Toe Head home in March 2020.

“We bought our home, a traditional West Cork farmhouse, in 2010 as part of a renovation project and really enjoyed working there. Marian’s mother was from Dooneen, a mile from our home, so we have a lot of family support around, ”Danny explained.

“I walk my dogs every morning to our nearest beach, Trá na Dough, and I was very aware of the volume of garbage there. I checked with Clean Coasts and the beach had not yet passed. Ray O’Foghlu (Coastal Programs Manager at An Taisce) was very helpful in setting up the Trá na Dough Clean Coasts group and providing a starter kit, even though there was only one member! ‘

Hannah Frost and Charlie Lee, who Danny had chatted with at the beach, joined him for their first cleanup last November when they collected six bags.

“Our local council waste manager, Teddy Browne, is extremely helpful in arranging the collection of our full bags.

“Ray O’Foghlu and Sandra Flynn (Skibbereen Tidy Towns) made our first cleanup public on their social media and then we became a multinational group of 11 volunteers.

“We did another cleanup in December and adopted a second beach, Trá na Gach (the beach near the coast guard station).

“Then the lockdown meant we couldn’t hold any events. However, myself and a neighbor from Toe Head, Tom Carroll, did some informal cleanups within our 5 mile limit.

The group plans to do a formal cleanup of both beaches later this month. Typically, they collect between three and seven bags which are mostly plastic containers / bags and fragments of fishing net / line.

The shattering views Danny encountered include dead seabirds tangled in fragments of fishing line / net.

Like Mark however, he is not discouraged and he thinks that the vast majority of people seem very aware of the need to bring beach litter home with them.

“The minority who dump litter on the beach or from boats will hopefully become more environmentally conscious as issues continue to be raised in the media and seeing groups of volunteers like us at job.

“The more people involved in the appeal, the better for our wildlife, our enjoyment of our wonderful beaches and the preservation of both for future generations,” Danny concluded.

Danny Smith of Clean Coasts on Trá na Dough Beach on Toe Head, Castlehaven. Photo: Anne Minihane.

“It is a question of distributing the responsibility”

Catherine Turner of Castletownbere knows the cost of marine litter better than anyone.

Her husband Damien is a fisherman, whose boat propeller was recently damaged by a net abandoned at sea.

“He had to be towed ashore by a tug and lost a day of fishing as a result. It was the second local boat in 48 hours to have this happened – another propeller was damaged by a rope, ”said Catherine.

Since the start of the lockdown, like so many others, Catherine has spent more time walking and with her friend Sandra O’Shea, they have each started to fill a bag of garbage on their routes.

It turned into more organized cleanups with others at Tom O’Brien’s Beach, Tralehan Strand, a bit of Dunboy Woods, Pulleen Pier.

“Litter keeper Teddy Browne provided us with bags, trash collectors and gloves and they were very successful. At Tom O’Brien’s beach, we filled a large van full of trash, with things like crates of fish, barrels of oil and rope, ”said Catherine.

It was February, and it’s something Catherine hasn’t stopped mastering ever since.

“It was horrible to see how much garbage there was. As a fishing port we have that extra level of plastic and ropes here, although all the local boats are really fantastic in the way they dispose of their waste, ”she pointed out.

Catherine is fully behind the # 2minutebeachclean and urges people to get involved.

“If we all take care of our own road or our own area, it really helps. I put a garbage bin near my house which is near Tralehan and people are using it.

“This is my contribution and it is about distributing the responsibility. If everyone does a little bit, it will help a lot.

Sandra O’Shea and Catherine Turner at Tralhan Strand, Castletownbere.
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