THE Cork harbour area near Blackrock Castle and White Bay Beach have been highlighted among the most heavily littered marine areas in a nationwide survey.
The survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) says the majority of beaches and harbours are falling short of clean status.
While 40% of 32 coastal areas surveyed were deemed clean in line with European norms, there was a rise in the number of locations branded ‘littered’.
Beaches, harbours, rivers, and their immediate environs were monitored by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce in June and July.
Fewer than half of the beaches and harbours surveyed were deemed clean in the litter survey which aims to raise awareness of pressing environmental issues such as plastic pollution. Among the cleanest beaches were areas like Brittas Bay in Wicklow and Lahinch in Clare.
However Kinsale, Bantry, and Castletownbere harbour were described as ‘moderately littered’ or ‘littered’.
According to the An Taisce report, Cork Harbour at Blackrock Castle was heavily littered with marine litter, cans, coffee cups, plastic packaging, and even a discarded wheelbarrow.
Independent city councillor for Cork South-East Kieran McCarthy described the news as disappointing.
“Over the last year and a half that whole harbour pier area has been so well used by people,” he said.
“Many of us public reps have been on to the council to put in larger bins and operate further collections. The further collections were put in place, but it’s a huge argument to put in larger bins. The council want people to take home their rubbish. That seems to be the status of both city and county council. The location has been the mental saviour for so many people.
“A lot of people appreciated the Marina right down to Blackrock Pier. I can see why it’s a litter blackspot. The bins have been emptied regularly for the last year and a half, but we couldn’t meet demand.
“It’s very disappointing, but it looks like the crowds might level off soon since the reopenings have started.”
He urged people unable to locate a bin to bring their rubbish home.
“If a bin is full, then the onus is on you to bring your litter home,” he said. “I wouldn’t accept any excuse, but there are still people who feel it’s other people’s job to pick up their litter.”
Nonetheless, Conor Horgan from the IBAL stressed that it is not all bad news.
“The story is a positive one in that we’ve seen a welcome rise in the number of clean beaches and harbours compared to our study of two years ago,” he said.
“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.”