The first nationwide survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL ) of Ireland’s rivers, beaches and harbours has revealed that the River Shannon in Athlone is ‘moderately littered’.
The study of beaches, harbours, rivers and their immediate environs, carried out by An Taisce, showed only four of 50 areas surveyed were deemed 'Clean to European Norms'.
The An Taisce report for Athlone revealed the following statistics - there was a mix of both typical litter and marine related litter. As well as this, there was a dead fish and dead bird and some building materials. Cigarette butts were very pronounced on the land with lower levels of other food related litter and polystyrene. Marine related litter included pieces of wood, rope and tubing.
The results contrast with those of IBAL’s recent surveys of towns across the country which show 75 percent of areas to be clean, compared to just eight percent in this survey.
“Sadly, accumulations of litter in and around our waterways are a common sight in Ireland and this is borne out by these disappointing results,” Conor Horgan of IBAL commented.
“If we can call our towns clean, we cannot say the same for the areas around our beaches and rivers. It took almost ten years of naming and shaming for local authorities to get to grips with litter in our towns. IBAL has set about pushing for a similar turnabout in respect of coastal areas and waterways," Horgan added.
IBAL has been publishing litter surveys since 2002 as part of its Anti-Litter League programme, which has helped bring about a spectacular shift in litter levels. 16 years ago, less than 10 percent of the towns surveyed were deemed ‘clean’. The most recent report shows three-quarters of towns attaining 'clean' status.
"The objective of this new campaign is to rid our coasts and waterways of litter, as they are central to the country’s appeal to visitors and an integral part of the clean image we project. Aside from this commercial motivation, our research brings into focus the broader issue of marine litter and the need to stem the vast amounts of plastic and other litter which is entering and killing our oceans." Horgan concluded.
The most common forms of litter found by the assessors were cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, plastic bottles and cans.