Three Galway beaches occupy ignoble positions in the litter survey of Irish coastal areas from Irish Businesses Against Litter.
Dog’s Bay beach in Connemara, Salthill beach in the city, and Loughrea Lake were all deemed ‘Littered’ in the latest report from IBAL.
Salthill and Loughrea’s position near the bottom of the table is particularly disappointing, given that they were previously among the most litter free, being deemed ‘Clean to European Norms’ in the last survey in 2019.
The latest survey, which was carried out by An Taisce in June and July, stated that Salthill beach had “overflowing litter bins and substantial fast-food / food related litter on top of and at the base of street bins.”
Along the beach itself there was more fast food trash, along with discarded coffee cups, sweet wrappers, clothing, toys, and utensils.
Dog’s Bay Beach, near Roundstone, was primarily affected by marine litter, while food litter and cigarette buts were noted in the car park at Loughrea Lake.
Fewer than half of the areas surveyed for IBAL were deemed Clean to European Norms, with a rise in the number of areas which were either ‘Littered’ or ‘Heavily Littered’.
The most common forms of litter found by the assessors were cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, disposable masks and plastic bottles, with coffee cups also featuring strongly. Alcohol cans were found in almost half of all sites.
“The majority of these litter item are plastics, whose impact on the marine environment is a source of global concern,” said Conor Horgan of IBAL.
“Cigarette butts, for example, may appear harmless, but they are in effect a single-use plastic which poses a real danger to our sea life.”
“We all need to realise that the implications of litter along our coasts go beyond tourism and recreation. It presents an existential threat to our planet and way of life.”
Despite the poor implications for areas in Galway, Conor Horgan said that the news was positive overall, with the number of clean beaches nearly doubling to thirteen.
“This is especially encouraging given the number of people who are staycationing and availing of our coastal amenities this year.”
“There is evidence that many local authorities have upped their game in terms of additional bins, facilities and signage.”