BALLYNAMONA Strand on the East Cork coastline is internationally renowned for a long list of bird life including shrikes, larks, citrine wagtails, sandpipers, pipits, American coot and red-necked stint.
There is a new sight to be seen there and it is ensuring that the strand remains a welcoming place for wildlife, seabirds, marine life and for the general public.
Regrettably, humans leave litter behind, disregarding protection of the marine environment. That spoils the area, leading to the new arrival in the area: a quad bike and trailer.
It is a positive story of community dedication to the preservation of a clean maritime environment by the group known as ‘Clean Coasts Ballynamona.’
Ballynamona Strand is close to the village of Shanagarry which is storied in history. The church in Shanagarry was built by Fr Peter O’Neill of the 1798 Rebellion and the ruins of Penn Castle, inherited by William Penn who would later become founder of the State of Pennsylvania in the USA, can be seen there.
Seeing the new quad bike and trailer involved in the removal of beach rubbish showed how local people are concerned for their maritime environment.
"Truly an excellent example of what can be achieved when business and community work together," said Proinsias Ó Tuama, a driving force of Clean Coasts Ballynamona and teacher at St.Colman’s Community College, Midleton.
To raise €16,000 needed for the new equipment to clean beach litter, Ballycotton Community Development Company, Ballycotton Seafood, Ballymaloe Cookery School, Shop and Café, Castlemartyr Resort, Garryvoe Hotel, Midleton Skip Hire, Midleton Distillery, Ballycotton Medical Centre, Midleton Veterinary Hospital, Carey Tools, Co-op Superstores, Teachers' Union of Ireland, An Taisce and the Tesco Community Fund all contributed.
"Without the backing and belief of our sponsors, this project would never have been possible," said Mr O Tuama.
The Ballynamona group has widened its commitment. It has twice been An Taisce Ocean Hero national award winner and has been using the equipment to maintain over 30kms of coastline by removing marine litter from Ballybranagan to Ballymacoda in East Cork.
Five tonnes of rubbish was taken from Ballybranagan beach with the help of the Transition Year students of St. Colman's College.
This is an indication of what a determined community can do for the protection of the marine environment. Other communities do please copy!
Dr Simon Berrow, Head of Science at the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group said: "Anybody who has walked on a beach in Ireland can’t fail to be shocked at the amount of plastic washed up. It’s a sobering thought that in the 100 years since plastic was invented, there are now islands of it in the oceans."
Listen to what he says on this link:
There has been a 'dramatic rise' in the amount of litter on the seabed around the UK - a 158 percent increase in one year, an average of 358 items of litter per square kilometre.
Almost 78 percent of that litter was plastic. The fight against plastic is extending around the world.
Costa Rica intends to ban all single-use plastics by 2021, including bottles, cutlery, cups and bags 'to protect marine and onshore wildlife.'
The President of Chile has signed a Bill to ban plastic bags in 100 coastal areas of the country. President Michelle Bachelet said, "This is to take care of our marine ecosystems.
"Everyone must co-operate."