The Ballynamona Clean Coast group and St Colman’s Community College, both in East Cork, were among the Ocean Hero award winners at the An Taisce Clean Coasts Symposium and Ocean Hero Awards announced in Dublin.
The Ballynamona group developed a local ‘Think Before You Flush’ campaign to tackle the problem of sewage-related beach litter caused by sanitary products and other items which have been flushed down the toilet.
They produced an information pack which spelled out the benefits to Ballycotton Bay if people changed their flushing behaviour.
Almost 200 people and local businesses, including the Garryvoe and Bayview Hotels, Lynch’s Inn by the Harbour, The Schooner Bar, The Blackbird Pub, and Ballycotton Garda Station committed to change.
The campaign was supported by St Colman’s Community College, which picked up the Ocean Hero School of the Year award.
The students, who adopted Ballynamona beach last year, signed up to the flush campaign, and were also hailed for adopting neighbouring Ardnahinch and Silverstrand beaches, which line Ballycotton Bay.
The students now care for more than 5km of coastline, including the wetlands area around Ballycotton, famous for its birdlife.
Paddy Crowe was named Ocean Hero Individual of the Year for his role in beach- cleaning campaigns on Inis Oírr.
Coastal Warriors, part of an HSE community personal support programme for adults with disabilities, based in Letterkenny, were named Newcomers of the Year for their work keeping Rathmullan beach clean.
Clifden Eco Camping and Caravanning Camping, which promote environmental awareness and offers free surf lessons to volunteers who collect the most litter at beach-cleans, was named Business of the Year, while the Beach Clean of the Year award went to the 100 volunteers who collected one tonne of waste from White Strand in Milltown Malbay during the year.
Dalkey Tidy Towns and Salesforce picked up awards for their work keeping parts of Dublin’s coastline clean.
An Taisce’s Clean Coasts programme’s Ocean Hero Awards were launched a decade ago. There are now more than 500 Clean Coasts volunteer groups keeping beaches and coastlines clean.
Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities manager with An Taisce’s environmental education unit, said the awards highlight the “remarkable work and wonderful coastal celebration events” that volunteers have been involved in over the past decade.