Salthill beach is the only one in Ireland deemed clean according to a new survey of Irish beaches, rivers, and harbours.
However the Shannon at Portumna was found to be “heavily littered”, while Loughrea and the River Corrib have both been described as “moderately littered”.
The survey said that Salthill beach was “notable for a virtual absence of litter” not just on the beach, but along the promenade, as well as changing and parking areas.
This year, Salthill beach won dual Blue and Green Flag awards for the cleanliness of its coastline and water.
The survey, commission by the Irish Businesses Against Litter and conducted by An Taisce, found that only 8% of beaches, rivers, and harbours in Ireland are clean.
IBAL had conducted litter surveys of Irish towns for several years now, but this is the first time that they have measured the cleanliness of waterways.
The Irish Times reports that out of 50 areas surveyed by An Taisce, only four were found to meet European standards of cleanliness.
That’s in comparison with the last survey of cities and towns which declared that 75% of them were litter free.
IBAL warns that if this level of littering along scenic spots and tourists destinations is not addressed, it could undermine the success of the Wild Atlantic Way, regarded as the most successful tourist campaign ever conducted by Ireland.
Spokesperson for IBAL Conor Horgan said: “We know the success of the Wild Atlantic Way is placing strains on infrastructure of various kinds,”
“Litter is a likely consequence of this and local authorities need to ensure the appeal of the way is sustained.”
The most common types of litter found during the survey were plastic bottles, can, cigarette butts, and sweet wrappers.
The goal of this new campaign taken on by the environmental group is to bring more attention to the condition of coasts and waterways that are so central to Ireland’s tourist image.
Mr. Horgan said that if someone drops litter anywhere, the likelihood of it finding its way to the water is high, “We are a small island and often subject to wet and windy weather.
“When someone casually drops a plastic bottle or cigarette butt on the street, the likelihood of it being blown into a local river or swept into a drain to then enter the sea is very high.”
The worst litter blackspots found by An Taisce were Dolin Pier in Clare and Cork Harbour, where assessors noted wood pallets, plastic containers, and buildup of large pieces of plastic around Blackrock Castle in Cork Harbour.
This is not just a commercial and image threat to Ireland Mr. Horgan said, but and environmental one: “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 entering and killing our oceans.”