Conservationists and students clean up Kilninian beach

Marine Conservation Society and Greenpeace join 25 primary school children on North West Mull as part of scientific expedition

Two leading conservation charities have visited the Isle of Mull as part of a scientific voyage around the Scottish coastline looking at the impact of plastic pollution.

Greenpeace scientists are currently sailing around Scotland on board Beluga II to document how the country’s globally important marine life is being affected by the rising tide of plastic rubbish in our oceans.

The voyage will see them investigating impacts on the puffins and gannets of Bass Rock in the east to the basking sharks of Gunna Sound in the Hebrides. On Monday 22nd May, Beluga II moored off the Isle of Mull and Greenpeace staff met with a Marine Conservation Society (MCS) team to carry out a clean-up and survey the litter on Kilninian beach, together with three primary schools - Ulva, Lochdonhead and Dervaig and a representative from the group City to Sea.

Catherine Gemmell, MCS Scotland Conservation Officer, said “We found over 30Kg of rubbish, made up of a mixture of rope, bottles, caps and other plastic items. Today was a fantastic celebration of working together. It was great to see members of staff from Greenpeace and City to Sea being trained up by some true local Beachwatch experts - the pupils from three schools!”

The Greenpeace and MCS teams met with 25 pupils from the Isles Lochdon, Ulva and Dervaig primary schools followed by a presentation at Ulva school by Greenpeace, inviting questions from the pupils about their voyage.

Catherine continues: “Back at Ulva Primary School we discovered how long these items take to disappear in the sea, and how plastic never truly disappears at all! The pupils came up with their own ideas on how to #EndOceanPlastics. Everything from writing to their local MSP to creating their own video was discussed.”

Catherine Gemmell continues: “It was a wonderful team effort, but I’d like to give special mention to an amazingly dedicated Sea Champion volunteer Janie Steele from Oban, who has been busy promoting the Beachwatch project in the area and thanks to her there are now 12 extra beaches now adopted and sending in that all important data to MCS.”

Frank Heweston, Greenpeace Campaigner said “It was fabulous to work with the primary schools during the beach clean today. Greenpeace looks to encourage and support environmental awareness at as young an age as possible. If Ulva, Lochdonhead and Dervaig Primary are anything to go by, there is so much to be hopeful and positive about” .

Mairi Nicolson, Principal Teacher, Ulva Primary said: “The children of Ulva Primary School have a great interest and concern for their local environment and beyond. Living on an island they are seeing the evidence of the plastic problem washing up on their shores. We were delighted to have the pleasure and the privilege of working with members from both Greenpeace and the Marine Conservation Society today, who came to join us on one of our beach cleans. The school was left feeling motivated to continue with our beach cleans and the children were able to think about more things they could be doing at home as individuals to help stop plastic waste reaching the oceans in the first place.”

The Marine Conservation Society runs beach clean and surveys throughout the year, and everyone is welcome to join in. The next Great British Beach Clean will be held over the 15th-18th September, see www.mcsuk.org for details.

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