It’s the Great beach clean up

Thanks to 70 volunteers who supported a gusty Worthing 2016 GREAT Beach Clean on Saturday, September 17, this year’s Marine Conservation Society’s annual litter survey was unremarkable in terms of rubbish.

This was partly due to the excellent job that Adur & Worthing Councils do in cleansing during the tourist season.

It was evident that plastic is still a major problem, although there are encouraging national developments with supermarkets reporting a major drop in use of plastic bags since introduction of 5p charge.

Government has proposed a ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetics (but not toiletries). Micro-plastic, including fibres from washing synthetic clothing, poses a threat to the zooplankton forming the basis of marine fish and shellfish food chains.

These tiny creatures mistakenly engulf them as food and are also threatened by plastics giving off harmful vapours in hot sun.

The plastic on our beaches comes from the land, often via rivers, or from around the globe via incoming tides.

Worthing 2016 plastic finds were mainly from food – bags, wrappers, containers, bottle caps and straws.

There were small pieces of green nylon fishing net, and legions of small broken plastic pieces.

Other food rubbish included wooden lolly sticks and fish forks, broken beer bottles, serviettes and wipes.

Cigarette stubs, counted in their scores, are a concern. Nicotine is harmful to shoreline wildlife.

Happily we reported only one dog poo this year – but again this may be due to AWC diligent cleansing!

Our biggest find was a broken canvas and metal chair. This year saw a particularly enthusiastic and committed group of volunteers with one jogging down from Horsham to join us. SWT organised a mermaid’s purse survey - the abundance of these shark and ray egg cases gives an index of threats to marine wildlife.

Worthing Climate Action Group reminded us that carbon emissions from use of fossil fuels contribute to global warming.

Rising sea level leads to flooding and loss of beach habitat and built heritage environs.

Folk are encouraged to sign up for MCS Beach Cleans all year round but September is always the GREAT one! Look out for results of this ‘Citizen Science’ national survey which will be published by MCS in March 2017, providing important data to help Government manage marine and coastal pollution. This could be significant when we repeal EU environmental legislation.

Barbara Shaw

St Thomas’s Road

Worthing

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