• by

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) annual litter survey and clean up “MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend” takes place over the weekend of the 19th and 20th of September 2009.  Thousands of volunteers are taking part at over 400 beaches, in the UK’s biggest survey of its kind.  After the clean up, the survey data collected will be key to continuing the MCS campaign for clean seas and beaches, aiming to halve the amount of litter on Britain’s beaches by 2015.

MCS Beachwatch 2008 results showed that litter on our beaches had increased by a staggering 110% since the annual survey began in 1994. The four main sources of litter found on UK beaches are from the public, fishing, sanitary waste (particularly cotton bud sticks) and shipping.

Emma Snowden MCS Litter Projects Coordinator says, “It’s not too late to take part, we need the public’s help to survey more beaches to tackle the relentless tide of litter threatening our beaches and wildlife! “  Emma continued, “The information you collect will help us tackle the sources of litter and campaign to reduce the most common and harmful items ending up on our beaches and killing wildlife.”

Getting involved is easy, simply contact MCS to find out more – 01989 567807, or go to  To see which beaches are taking part in Beachwatch Big Weekend 2009 in your area go to 

Minister for Marine and Natural Environment, Huw Irranca-Davies MP will be taking part in MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend at Ogmore-by-Sea, West Glamorgan at 2pm on Saturday 19th September.  Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Nick Herbert MP will also be joining in at West beach LNR, Littlehampton in West Sussex on Saturday 19th September at 10.30am.

Marine litter kills wildlife, can be hazardous to people and costs millions to clear up.  Over 170 species of marine wildlife including seabirds, turtles and whales have been recorded mistaking marine litter for food, which can result in starvation, poisoning and fatal stomach blockages.  In addition plastic packaging and discarded fishing nets can entangle and drown some of Britain’s favourite marine animals, including seals and dolphins.

MCS wants to see zero waste on Britain’s beaches and our first goal is to halve the litter on Britain’s beaches by 2015.  By taking part in Beachwatch Big weekend volunteers will be helping us to reach this goal.  The public can also show support by signing our petition calling for a UK government action plan to tackle marine litter at

MCS Beachwatch results are vital in turning the tide on litter. They have helped influence changes to laws on disposing of waste at sea, and resulted in investment in better sewage treatment at the coast.  The data collected by MCS Beachwatch volunteers also contributes to a worldwide project, the International Coastal Cleanup, which takes place in over 80 countries worldwide.

MCS is extremely grateful to SeaFrance Dover-Calais Ferries for funding the Beachwatch campaign.

Robin Wilkins, MD of SeaFrance says, “Along with members of SeaFrance staff and local volunteers, I have been involved in regular beach cleans and surveys at Kingsdown.  It’s been shocking to see the levels of litter on the beach. The easy option is to just leave your litter behind rather than take it home with you, but the litter left behind impacts our coastline for generations. SeaFrance is absolutely committed through its support as lead sponsor of MCS Beachwatch to help combat this problem.”

To see a list of beaches taking part in MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend 2009 log onto

To register as an organiser or a volunteer, register online at: or call the MCS litter team on 01989 567807.

MCS staff will be organising their own beach cleans at:
Cramond, Edinburgh, Scotland – Saturday 19th September, 10am, meet at the start of Cramond Causeway, contact Calum Duncan for more details: [email protected] – 0131 226 6360
Sand Bay, Somerset, England – Saturday 19th September, 10.30am, meet at Car park off Sand Road, contact Sue Kinsey for more details: [email protected] – 01989 561586
Langland Bay, Swansea, Wales – Sunday 20th September, 10.00am, meet at the car park, Langland, contact: Gill Bell for more details: 01989 566017