Dumped tyres found on 23% of coastline

Tyres are the most widespread large litter type found along the Irish coast — while bottles, cans and household refuse continue to be dumped at some of Ireland’s most scenic beauty spots.

Dumped tyres found on 23% of coastline

The 2015 Coastwatch Ireland survey examined some 552 sections of Irish coastline and found that tyres were reported on 23% of the coast surveyed.

The probe involves volunteers from all walks of life checking their chosen 500m stretch of coast once around low tide, and jotting observations down on the survey questionnaire while on the shore.

Landfill material was noted at one out of five sites, with household furnishings in 14%. Household refuse in bags or sacks was reported in 7% of surveyed areas.

When drinks containers, lids, lighters and plastic bags were mapped, the highest litter density was on the Irish sea coast and most, but not all, associated with rivers and towns.

Drinks container litter was the most widespread type encountered. Plastic bottles were recorded at 83% of locations in keeping with previous years. A total of 14,415 plastic bottles were counted by volunteers — an average of just under four bottles per 100m of shoreline.

A total of 5,726 cans were counted on 68% of shoreline or 2.4 cans per 100m. Some 1,341 (or 0.5 per 100m) glass bottles were scattered over 45% of sites.

Tetra pack containers remain the least frequent type of rubbish encountered, with 41% of sites reporting this litter, and a count of 1,057 averaging 0.4 containers per 100m.

There were one or more plastic shopping bags in 46% of survey sites. The count of 1,240 came to an average of 0.5 per 100m which mirrors the same low count as in previous years. The Northern Ireland count came to a slightly higher 0.8 per 100m.

After plastic bottles and cans, the ‘rope and string’ category was the most widespread small litter found on Irish shoreline (64%), followed by ‘other plastics’ (60%) , textiles (56%) bottle lids (50%), hard plastic containers (46%) and polystyrene (43%).

Fishing/angling/aquaculture gear was found on 38% of shores and was dominated by net pieces. Other litter mentioned were balloons and cotton buds.

One hundred live seals were recorded dotted around our coast in 37 sites, while six were found dead. Other dead animals discovered by surveyors included two headless leatherback turtles — one in Morriscastle, North Wexford, and one in Ballybrannigan in Cork.

Some 68% of survey sites were described as never or very rarely affected by sewage. Discoloured scum and froth were reported at 12%, a bad smell was noted for 7%.

Earlier this year, Coastwatch Ireland discovered a disused dump in Bray holding 200,000 tonnes of rubbish was being washed into the sea more than 20 years after the problem was identified.

Litter findings

Tyres were reported on 23% of the coast and are now the most widespread large litter type.

Landfill material was noted in one out of five sites and household furnishings in 14%.

Household refuse in bags or sacks was reported in 7% of surveyed areas.

Drinks container litter was the most widespread litter encountered and increased over 2014 as more urban shores were included in this year’s survey.

Plastic bottles were noted in 83% of sites.

There were one or more plastic shopping bags in 46% of sites.

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