Those of you that went on bbc.co.uk yesterday would have picked up on the story about the amount of litter being left on Britain’s beaches reaching record proportions. If you took the time to check the ‘SEE ALSO’ box to the right, you probably also noticed a few similar, back dated articles. The title this time last year being ‘UK beaches blighted by plastic’, and in 2007 it was “Beach litter ‘increases by 90%’”.
This year the latest study shows that two items of litter were found for every metre of beach, or if you live in the South-West of this fair isle, that’s four-to-five pieces per metre. You don’t need me to tell you this is bad. It’s bad for marine life, bad for wildlife and pretty minging for those of us that like to get our feet wet.
Things have got so bad, that the Marine Conservation Society have petitioned the government to develop a “co-ordinated marine litter strategy”. Our wonderful government have reacted with an approach that has become all too familiar of late, sherking responsibility completely, saying it’s an “issue of personal responsibility”.
While a large amount of this waste comes from fishing, sewage and shipping, at least a third of it was dropped by the public. Government ministers will be first to highlight the exceptional success of the Blue Flag campaign, which recognises tidy beaches. Since 2002, the number of Blue Flag beaches has increased from 45 to 82 in 2008. This all looks very nice on paper, but it’s clearly not enough to stop the flow of crap in and around our seas.
As a final note, it’s not all doom and gloom. Last year Britain’s beaches received a 96.5% rating for cleanliness in an EU report, which stood above the 95% overall EU compliance figure. Beaches in Greece, Cyprus, Finland and the Netherlands all got top marks, whereas Romania got a shocking 29%. Personally, I’m a little dubious of such reports after all, their expectations can’t be that high, if there’s still so much litter on our beaches.
Organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage have made an invaluable contribution to raising our awareness of this and similar issues, so check out their website here and find out what you can do to help.
Don’t be dirty