The latest litter survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) has found the River Moy at Ballina to be ‘moderately littered’, as is the River Corrib in Galway city and the Garravogue River in Sligo town.
In this latest nationwide survey of rivers, harbours and beaches, the beach at Salthill was deemed “clean to European norms” as was Loughrea in Galway and the River Shannon at Carrick on Shannon.
While the majority of our towns are now deemed “clean”, our beaches and waterways are not, according to this study.
Of the 42 areas surveyed across the country in this IBAL survey, only 1 in 6 were deemed ‘clean’, while 14% were classed as ‘littered’ or ‘heavily littered’.
Beaches, harbours, rivers and their immediate environs were monitored by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce over the course of the summer.
The An Taisce report for the River Moy at Ballina stated: Much of the area surveyed was well presented and maintained and enhanced by an abundance of colourful planting. However, there was a wide variety of land-based litter, much of it food and alcohol related. It was noted that cigarette butts were present in large amounts, not just isolated accumulations but throughout the area surveyed. Full / over-flowing bins could become future litter if not addressed e.g. near Salmon Weir. Care needs to be taken at the derelict build at the end of the salmon weir bridge as it could become a magnet for further litter.
Once again Salthill emerged as one of the cleanest beaches, while Lough Rea and the River Shannon at Carrick-on-Shannon are classified as clean.
Conor Horgan of IBAL says the group’s regular surveys consistently show 80% of Irish towns to be clean. We cannot say the same for our beaches and waterways. For us as a business group this is about protecting tourism and our recreational assets, but it is equally about global impact and our future - the litter we encounter in these areas will typically enter our seas and add to the problem of marine litter, which is threatening our very survival.”
The need for action around plastic pollution in the marine and aquatic environment is now well established. Worldwide, billions of kilos of disgarded plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans, making up about 40 percent of the world's ocean surfaces.Recent studies have also highlighted the potential impact of marine litter on our climate, as plastic consumed by plankton may impair a key role of the ocean in trapping CO2 from our atmosphere.
The most common forms of litter found by the assessors were food wrappers, plastic bottles, cans and cigarette butts. Irish Business Against Litter has been conducting surveys of towns and cities since 2002 and has witnessed a spectacular rise in cleanliness over that period. This is the second year that the study has extended to coastal areas and waterways.