Blackness beaches turn tide on litter

Volunteers make their way to the beach for the cleanup
Volunteers make their way to the beach for the cleanup

Blackness beaches received a thorough clean on Saturday as part of Beachwatch, the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) campaign to highlight litter around the UK’s coastline.

The clean up and survey was organised by MCS sea champions Jackie Leeds, from Blackness, and Lesley Anderson, from Linlithgow.

More than 40 sacks of refuse were collected.

Living in Blackness, Jackie regularly sees the damage that can be done by marine pollution to both wildlife and the environment.

Lesley, as a member of West Lothian Sub Aqua Club, has also seen up close the unnecessary damage being caused by litter to Scotland’s marine environment.

Both women are committed to tackling coastal pollution and highlighting marine issues and have become part of a network of ambassadors working for a clean coastline and healthy seas around the UK.

Jackie said: “The tide of litter washing up on our shores is not just unpleasant to look at, it can harm and even kill some of our best-loved marine wildlife.

“Over 170 species, including seabirds, turtles and whales, have mistaken marine litter for food and actually eaten it, which in many cases has resulted in starvation, poisoning and ultimately a slow, painful death.

“Plastic packaging and discarded fishing nets also injure, entangle and drown some of Britain’s favourite marine animals such as seals and dolphins.”

MCS surveys have recorded a steady increase in the amount of beach litter since 1994.

The four main sources come from the public, fishing, sanitary waste, (disposable wipes, sanitary towels and cotton buds) and shipping.

MCS Beachwatch results are vital in turning the tide on litter. They have helped influence changes to laws on disposing waste at sea and resulted in improved coastal sewage treatment works.