Where is it all coming from?

Walking on certain beaches on the west coast you sometimes get the feeling that most of the litter is from the fishing boats as recorded on many of my strand line walks,  but as the surveys with the schools and volunteers showed its only one element of a complex story and even in ‘clean’ Loch Broom and Loch  Inver  users of the beaches and the adjacent land are often the biggest causes of litter.

Achduart litter in seaweed

High on all our lists: plastic bottles, food containers and wrappers, glass bottles, plastic shopping bags, drinks cans, clothes, metal barbeques, gun cartridges…….

  milk bottle  net blog  electrical cable bog psd  plastic bottle & wrapper

The amount of marine litter not only varies hugely between beaches,  coasts, islands , continents, oceans and by climatic changes. It has been estimated that 80%of marine litter could be from land with possibly only 20% coming from vessels. This projection is thought to have originated from the International Coastal Cleanup which Scotland and the UK as a whole takes part in organised through  MCS  http://www.mcsuk.org/scotland . Our local survey on Ullapool East Shore will also to add to Scottish statistics on what’s happening in the marine environment  and if continued on yearly help to add to international statistics.

But we know relatively little about what is lying on the sea floor or suspended in the water. That is why the reports from sailors like Ivan MacFadyen,  divers  and the information gathered by specific research teams such as the one based at University Marine Biological Station Millport,*is so crucial to our understanding.  The beaches are our thermometers to the health of the seas, the simple lists collected go on………electrical cable, metal window encasement, ducting, concrete blocks, pier fenders……..

strandline PDF horizontal

*Since starting this project in September the Millport research team has been cut

One thought on “Where is it all coming from?

  1. Ever since you started this project I’ve had a nagging at the back of my mind about a poem, one of the first ‘Poems on the Underground’, the project started in 1986 when I was first living in London, and I was especially struck by a poem that I knew had something to do with the subject. I have just tracked it down and it’s by Cicely Herbert, called Everything Changes and here it is:

    Everything Changes

    after Brecht, ‘Alles wandelt sich’

    Everything changes. We plant
    trees for those born later
    but what’s happened has happened,
    and poisons poured into the seas
    cannot be drained out again.

    What’s happened has happened
    poisons poured into the seas
    cannot be drained out again, but
    everything changes. We plant
    trees for those born later.

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