Youths are riding the Waves of Litter

YOUNG people from Portstewart and Bushmills recently took part in a number of beach clean ups along the north coast in reward for paddle board lessons to highlight the ongoing blight of plastics being dumped in our inland rivers and seas.

Twenty five young people from Portstewart Young Vision and Bushmills Young People’s Group have completed a 5 week joint programme organised by NEELB Youth Service and supported by Portstewart Vision and TIDY Northern Ireland that saw them learn about the marine environment, gain a new waterborne skill, participate in a beach clean up, and produce a social media package.

A beach clean up at Runkerry Strand, in Portballintrae, the Whiterocks near Portrush and at the Lower Promenade in Portstewart, was made a lot more interesting following a talk on the marine environment by Jim Allen Environment Officer for Coleraine Borough Council. The clean up revealed that plastic products and drinks bottles in particular, which can be recycled, are being recklessly discarded right along the coast and are ending up in the sea in significant numbers.

Patricia Magee, National Coastal Officer, TIDY Northern Ireland said: “The presence of so many plastics shows that not all the rubbish found on the foreshore is washed up from far afield. A considerable amount is generatedlocally, and not just in our seaside resorts.  Our own rivers bring waste from inland areas, and sadly this does nothing to improve water quality or help the North Coast retain its Blue Flag status beaches.”

The young people thoroughly enjoyed a paddle boarding course with Surfsup-ni in Portballintrae as part of the project, and like most people took pleasure in practicing this activity in seas that are clean.

The project proved to be a positive experience for all, was great fun, and a good way to make new friends; but more than this, it brought home the realisation that everyone needs to dispose of their rubbish carefully, particularly if the oceans are to remain a long term source of safe food and a clean place for people to engage in waterborne activities.

Don’t forget! All this work does not go unrecognised; you can enter for the 2011 Coast Care Awards and Photo Competition. You can find more details on our website www.tidynorthernireland.org.