2 August 2021
By Tom Collins
Cork Harbour, White Bay, Kinsale, Bantry and Castletownbere have all fallen short of clean status in the latest nationwide litter survey of beaches and harbours by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL). In all, 40% of 32 coastal areas surveyed were clean, but there was a rise in areas branded ‘littered’ or ‘heavily littered’. Cork Harbour at Blackrock Castle and White Bay were the worst areas surveyed, while Bantry dropped from ‘moderately littered’ 2 years ago to join Castletownbere as ‘littered’. Kinsale was ‘moderately littered’.
Beaches, harbours, rivers and their immediate environs were monitored by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce in June and July.
Clean beaches included Strandhill, Lahinch, Clogherhead and Portmarnock. By contrast, Bundoran in Donegal, Keel in Mayo and Salthill and Dogs Bay in Galway were littered.
“Overall, the story is a positive one in that we’ve seen a welcome rise in the number of clean beaches and harbours compared to our study of 2 years ago,” comments Conor Horgan of IBAL. “This is especially encouraging given the number of people who are staycationing and availing of our coastal amenities this year. There is evidence that many local authorities have upped their game in terms of additional bins, facilities and signage.”
“However, at the bottom end of the table, we’ve seen many areas deteriorate from ‘moderately littered’ to ‘littered’.
“As well as local authorities, credit is due to growing number of Clean Coast volunteer groups, now 1,500-strong, who work so hard to keep our beaches free of litter. Their efforts are clearly bearing fruit,” adds Mr Horgan.
The most common forms of litter found by the assessors were cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, disposable masks and plastic bottles, with coffee cups also featuring strongly. Alcohol cans were found in almost half of all sites.
“The majority of these litter item are plastics, whose impact on the marine environment is a recognised source of global concern. Cigarette butts, for example, may appear harmless, but they are in effect a single-use plastic which poses a real danger to our sea life.” Research shows a single butt can contaminate up to 200 litres of water.
“We all need to realise that the implications of litter along our coasts go beyond tourism and recreation. It presents an existential threat to our planet.”
For further information contact Conor Horgan on 086 8217211 or 086 387 4217
IBAL coastal litter survey 2021
Clean To European Norms
Bray seafront Wicklow
Brittas Bay Wicklow
Clogherhead beach Louth
Curracloe beach Wexford
Dun Laoghaire harbour Dublin
Kilmore Quay harbour Wexford
Lahinch beach Clare
Mountshannon (River Shannon) Clare
Old Head beach Mayo
Portmagee harbour Kerry
Portmarnack beach Dublin
Strandhill beach Sligo
Tramore beach Waterford
Ballybunion beach Kerry
Dingle harbour Kerry
Doolin pier and harbour Clare
Dungarvan harbour Waterford
Grand Canal Dock Dublin
Killiney beach Dublin
Killybegs harbour Donegal
Kinsale harbour Cork
Skerries beach Dublin
Annesley Bridge (River Tolka) Dublin
Bantry harbour Cork
Bundoran beach Donegal
Castletownbere harbour Cork
Dog’s Bay beach Galway
Keel beach Mayo
Lough Rea (Loughrea) Galway
Salthill beach Galway
Cork Harbour (Blackrock Castle) Cork
White Bay beach Cork
*Areas surveyed comprise waterfront and immediate environs. Within each category, order is alphabetical.
Cork Harbour at Blackrock Castle
Overall landward area is well managed. The walkway / greenway (in the eastern side of the castle) is well used and was in good order. Foreshore, to the west of the castle and towards and around Blackrock Village / Harbour was heavily littered with marine litter and cans from outdoor drinking. The harbour area is very heavily littered with marine litter, plastic bottles, coffee cups, plastic packaging. There was an even mix of long and short lie litter and amongst the marine and food related litter there was a discarded wheelbarrow.
At first glance, White Bay looks clean with limited amounts of fresh litter. However, in the cobbles, stones and sand along the top of the beach it is stuffed with small pieces of broken up long lie litter and sewage related litter mainly cotton buds, bottle tops etc. It looks like this beach is where a lot of the marine litter transported into Cork Harbour from upstream ends up and is winnowed and broken up and then entombed into the beach sediments.
The main land area was generally very clean with regard to litter and bright flower boxes added a splash of colour. Cigarette butts were particularly obvious, with several separate accumulations, (especially close to gutters and drains leading to the sea). There was no shortage of bins in the area surveyed; Apart from land based cigarette butts, much of the food related litter was over the wall of the car park, into the sea; there was no majorly obvious food items, with a wide variety of food related items present; the main non food related items included face masks (both disposable and others) and dog fouling; Alcohol related litter (take away plastic glasses and glass bottles); a very old Christmas tree was at the base of the water bed.
There was very much a litter presence at the seating areas, despite numerous bins in the vicinity. Much of this litter was food related and associated with the market taking place. Accumulations of litter were thrown over the bridge by some steps. The stored fishing gear appeared disused, with plants growing all over it – this has attracted other people to throw their litter here. If not carefully monitored, this is likely to further attract litter and even dumping. Good to see cigarette butt unit attached to the black bench – this is exactly what is needed to prevent accumulations of same beneath the seating. A shopping trolly had been left by the recycle facility – the bins and signage at this facility were freshly presented. Mutt Mitt seemed in good order. There didn’t appear to be any litter awareness notices – perhaps the installation of same could help tackle the casually discarded litter.
There was a very definite litter presence at Castletownbere, particularly food related items. While much of the food related litter was ‘short-lie’ there was also some ‘long-lie’ items strewn about. The overall impression was of an area which appeared to lack a thorough cleaning. Cigarette butts had accumulated in the car park, particularly close to the drain in the corner, with many butts within the drain. There was marine related litter above the high tide line and in the area where the ferry departs for Bere Island. There didn’t appear to be any ‘litter awareness’ or ‘dog fouling’ notices in the area – the only notice was on the street bin indicating that it was not for household rubbish. Clearly there is need for the latter notice as there was a bag of household rubbish beside a bin. There is plenty of room for improvement with the installation of litter / dog fouling notices.