Can you help create one of the biggest beach cleaning event ever in Wales?

Marine Conservation Society bidding to clean up to more beaches than ever before across the country in just four days

Wales’ leading marine charity is urging people who love the coast to organise a beach clean and survey and do their bit in the worldwide fight against marine litter.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) will be running its 24th annual Great British Beach Clean-up event all around the UK, including on many Welsh beaches, between the 15th and 18th September and the charity hopes this year’s clean- up in the country will help put the UK in the top ten of the 100 or so participating countries and regions which take part in the International Coastal Clean-up during the same weekend every year.

“Wales has so much beautiful coastline.” says Gill Bell, MCS Head of Conservation, Wales. “Many communities rely on the cleanliness of beaches for their coastal economy. The public often feel there is little they can do to tackle the issue of beach litter which causes problems to both humans and wildlife.”

During the 2016 Great British Beach Clean event in Wales, 408 volunteers cleaned 28 beaches, picking up, on average, 607 items of litter per 100m they cleaned. There was a 16% increase in litter on Welsh beaches compared to 2015.

“Our beach cleans and surveys are vital because they gather the real evidence we need to show governments the issues that beach litter poses. In 2016 there was good news in Wales as we could show that the single-use carrier bag charge is really starting to pay off - just under four bags were found for every 100 metres we cleaned - is significantly lower than any other year since 2011!” says Gill Bell.

However the figures form 2016 showed that Wales had the third highest litter density but lower than the UK average. A total of 18,573 litter items were collected from the 28 surveyed.

Although the Great British Beach Clean doesn’t take place until September, MCS says it’s vital that new organisers get involved now so volunteers have enough time to sign up to the new clean-ups.

“What really concerned us in 2016 was that the public seemed less engaged with beach cleaning than ever before,” says Gill Bell. “Beaches surveyed, volunteers taking part and the distance surveyed all increased in 2015 but unfortunately in 2016 they all decreased. That’s why we’re putting out a call to find more people to organise beach cleans around the Welsh coast. We know people love the beautiful coastline we have but unless we get more beaches cleaned and gather more evidence of the type of litter coming to rest in Wales – it’s harder to do something about it.”

The MCS Great British Beach Clean is part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Clean-up. Last year volunteers, at beaches all over the world, covered a distance of 14,990 miles and collected weird finds ranging from a piano to drones, selfie sticks to typewriters. In the UK 364 beaches were cleaned.

Running a beach clean has never been simpler with the introduction of a fantastic interactive website with lots of downloadable resources to help people promote their clean-ups as well as support from the Beachwatch team at MCS headquarters both online and on the phone.

“We would love to see more beaches cleaned in Wales this year. Over 50 were cleaned in 2015 so we’re aiming for that in 2017” says Gill Bell. “Anyone wishing to run a beach clean will get lots of help from MCS. The coast isn’t just for a week’s holiday…it’s for all year round.”

The Great British Beach Clean is part of the year-long Waitrose Beach and River Clean-up and is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Head of Charities for People’s Postcode Lottery, Clara Govier, said: “I’m delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting this project. It’s such an important initiative, and the more beach cleans that are run around the country the better. Having been on clean-ups with MCS, I found them really fulfilling and great fun.”

If you would like to organise a beach clean event in Wales that will benefit our favourite or nearest beach and help tackle beach litter globally, visit www.mcsuk.org/greatbritishbeachclean or telephone 01989 566017.

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Email info@mcsuk.org

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