For the 3 years or so our Island Warden Bob has been involved with the Island, he has been removing marine waste and pollutants from the foreshore facing the Hoe. It has been mainly discarded fishing gear and nets plus tyres. The remainder has included plastic bottles and micro plastics, glass, aluminium cans, single use BBQ’s and some quite random items including a 4HP outboard motor, a phone, fire extinguishers, a fridge, an air con unit, divers fins, swimming goggles, flip flops and fishing rods.

Bob had a meeting on the Island with Gary Jolliffe who is the founder and driving force behind Till the Coast is Clear, a local Plymouth based not for profit charity NGO. Gary was keen to remove the marine waste and pollutants from the environment responsibly. Concurrently we were collaborating with University Technical College, a secondary school in Devonport. One of things they were keen on doing was getting their eco student group to do a beach clean and to recycle some of what they collected in a school arts project. They jumped at the chance to  collaborate with us and get the students out on a field trip. We agreed that 6th May would fit best for everyone and give us optimum tides.

So the day had a number of aims. First to remove some of the extra waste from the beach, 2 more fishing nets had washed up and dig out some of the substantially buried lobster and crab pots together with some fish nets. This prevents the waste getting back into the environment through further degradation and removes pollutants that endanger the local wildlife and their habitats. UTC concentrated on the Beach Clean and digging out more pollutants from the beach as Gary and Rob (one of his volunteers) and Bob concentrated on packing the nets and other pollutants for Gary to take back to Yacht Haven Quay where the Marina kindly offloaded them for Gary to responsibly dispose of. Secondary aims were education of how the marine waste and pollutants get into the environment by looking at the type of waste that washes up, how it decays and leeches into the environment and how it entangles itself into and affects the marine habitats. It was also a good soft skills exercise as they worked together in teams and problem solved to get the waste out of the environment.

In the end Gary did two boat trips full of waste that removed over 1250 kgs of marine waste from the Island. The Students from UTC were amazing, 13 of them from Yrs 7 and 11 who worked tirelessly and never gave up on removing the waste. One group of 4, spent an hour successfully digging a lobster pot out from under one of the concrete beams on the pier.

Thanks must go to Derek Smith and Silverline Cruises who transported UTC to and from the Island and to Mayflower Marina who allowed access for UTC and facilitated the boat picking and dropping off UTC free of charge. Yacht Haven Marina who supported Til the Coast is Clear and the removal of the waste from the boat onto the mainland for onward disposal but most of all to UTC who supplied the manpower and Til the Coast is Clear who removed the waste and arranged for its safe and responsible onward disposal.