A report on Lomond and Helensburgh Network’s Arrochar Beachwatch Event – 14 Sep 2018
From what I understand there were 60 volunteers signed up and around 50 turned up, which our organiser (Helen Downie) was very proud of.
Together 20 of us carried out a beach survey for Marine Conservation Society (MCS) in a 100 yard stretch of Arrochar beach towards the river mouth whilst the others went for pure litter picking. After an hour of picking and gathering the litter data, our team went back to a nearby picnic table and recorded our results. At that point there were a fair number of bags collected. Our record sheets were collected and collated by Helen and people broke into smaller groups to pick more, have lunch or head back to their offices.
After a little break for lunch and getting to know some of the volunteers I paired up with a lady (Mari Cowan) and we headed further round the beach to collect more litter. We were surprised how much plastic was about in various sizes with the most abundant being small squares that had broken off a larger sheet or container.
Another disturbing realisation was how ingrained some of the debris was into the soil, vegetation, sand and water. We were told that Marine Scotland had had a volunteer day in May when they brought in huge diggers to scoop up a section of the beach in hopes of removing these harmful micro plastics from the sediment. It was sad to hear that it was almost as bad if not worse on the day I was up helping out.
I know this probably sounds bad, but due to the geography of Arrochar and the currents around the mouth of the Loch, it naturally acts like a giant sink; pulling huge amounts of marine litter and debris in from the Irish Sea and open oceans. Basically they need people to volunteer their time to keep the monumental piles of rubbish away. That’s why Marine Scotland and Marine Conservation Society are interested not just in cleaning up Arrochar but trying to document what gets washed up on the shores. Their hope is that with the evidence they collect, the findings will support policy and influence change on higher levels. For example how the word spread about plastic straws and cotton buds. Thanks to Blue Planet 2 it appears as though people are starting to take notice of the world around them and from what I see with some of the groups I’m connected to is that more and more people are getting interested and trying to help in whatever way they can.
That’s why I wanted to help out on the beach clean and why I am very excited for the community woodland litter pick up at our church on Sunday 30th September. Marjory, I think you and the Eco team are doing a marvellous job with the plants and clean ups and I hope I can help even if it is in a small way.