Solway Aquatic Litter Task (SALT)
The Solway Firth Partnership, with the assistance of key partners, has drawn up a programme of action to tackle marine and coastal litter issues on the Solway under the title of Solway Aquatic Litter Task (SALT). The programme builds on the SFP Conference Marine Litter Workshop held in 2005 and other local consultation and aims to facilitate co-ordinated and targeted effort by encouraging community, business and agency action. Support will be by means of providing information and equipment as required and acting as a link between relevant interests. The project will also support and build upon existing national initiatives such as the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Adopt a Beach and Beachwatch programmes which involve beach cleaning and survey work. Results of surveys are analysed by MCS to identify the main sources of litter and encourage action to reduce marine litter at source.
Some of the principal issues include the impact of marine litter on wildlife through entanglement and ingestion with an estimated 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds killed every year in British waters. Further issues include loss of visual appeal of beaches, costs of cleaning to local authorities, costs to fishermen for lost time, damage to gear etc and human health risk. And an increasingly serious aspect to is that plastics are not biodegradable, that is, they never disappear, but just eventually break up into smaller and smaller pieces. These tiny pieces of plastic are then swallowed by creatures such as seabirds and fish and sadly are a major cause of death and disease in sea animals.
Solway Firth Partnership has recently been successful in attracting funding from Scottish Natural Heritage and The Crown Estate to establish a beach litter survey and cleaning resource. This will include all the information and equipment schools and community groups need to carry out work to support national beach cleaning and survey initiatives such as the Marine Conservation Society campaigns and the resource pack will be launched early in the new year.
As part of the SALT campaign, SFP supported Beachwatch last September by organising an event at Monreith and promoting a range of events led by other organisations at Powillamont, Mersehead, Rockcliffe, Carrick and Skyreburn. At Monreith, the hundred metre long survey area yielded an astonishing total of 11 balloon remains. Helium filled balloons are often used to advertise corporate events and are now a major source of marine and coastal litter and are particularly dangerous to marine wildlife as they are readily mistaken for jellyfish, an important food for many marine animals.
The Seashore Code
· Respect seashore creatures
· Carefully replace rocks where you find them
· Handle soft bodied animals carefully
· Always put creatures back where you found them
· Only collect empty shells
· Don’t touch anything which could be dangerous
· Beware of cliffs and incoming tides
· Take your litter home
· Have fun!