BEACHWATCH, the flagship event of the Marine Conservation Society (MCA) Adopt-a-Beach project, took place last weekend on beaches all over the UK.
Data recorded at each survey have been sent to the MCS to identify the quantities and sources of marine and beach litter. MCS will use the results at a national level to campaign against the sources of litter and publish the results in the National Beachwatch report next spring.
The event in Shetland was organised by Rebecca Lopez and local volunteers helped to make a practical difference by removing rubbish from a 100m stretch of Meal Beach in Burra on Saturday.
The Meal survey recorded a total of 817 items. The five most common items recorded were fishing nets, plastic pieces (less than 1cm) and plastic pieces (1-50cm). Unusual items included an addressed ballon and a barrel containing corrosive liquid.
The survey showed that the major source of beach litter was fishing litter (e.g. buoys, fishing line and nets). A spokesman said these were potentially dangerous items to marine wildlife as they could cause entanglement.
“Awareness of the issue needs to be raised in the local fishing community and the establishment of port waste reception facilities can offer a sensible alternative,” the spokesman said. “But incentives may need to be introduced before this method is effective.”
MCS Beachwatch and Adopt-a-Beach are sponsored by the Crown Estate.