The first national survey of Ireland’s rivers, beaches and harbours has revealed that only four of 50 areas surveyed were deemed to meet European standards.
Almost 40% were littered or heavily littered, with some areas in Cork Harbour and Doolin Pier in Clare classified as litter blackspots. The most common forms of litter included cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, plastic bottles and cans. The survey of waterways across Ireland is the first by Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL).
With only 8% of areas around beaches and rivers being deemed clean, the results contrast with a recent survey of towns and cities, which shows 75% of areas to be clean..
The Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce was commissioned to monitor 50 locations over Summer 2018. At Blackrock Castle in Cork Harbour, the assessors found large piles of rubbish including wood pallets, plastic containers and large plastic pieces. Popular tourist beaches that don’t meet European standards are damaging to the country’s economy so now IBAL plans to make this survey annual to monitor improvements.
The An Taisce report praised Kinsale Harbour as ‘remarkably free of litter for a busy harbour attracting lots of tourists.’ Salthill was notable for ‘a virtual absence of litter throughout the beach, promenade, changing and parking areas.’
For every foot of coastline in the world, the equivalent of five grocery bags filled with plastic ends up in our oceans each year. Without improvements, by 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.