Islanders are invited to join Littlefeet Environmental in Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark this weekend in their effort to clear beaches of their litter as part of their Big Channel Islands Beach Clean.
In Jersey, people can either join in today at 11:00 at Ouaisne Bay or tomorrow at 11:00 at La Pulente to help the group.
Last year, over 160 plastic bottles and 38 bags full of litter were picked up during the Big Clean Up but Little Feet Environmental will be covering more beaches and clearing more litter off this weekend.
Originally conceived as a consultancy in 2008 with the intention of turning a profit, Littlefeet Environmental registered as non-profit in 2011. Courtney Huisman and Andy Farmer, the brains behind the group, explained they made the decision due to the economic decline and their love for the sea.
They started beach cleaning in September 2012 on a weekly-basis. Islanders were quick to join in the pair's efforts and between 10 to 20 people take part in the weekly appointments. Larger clean ups, such as the annual Island Wide Beach Clean and Big Channel Islands Beach Clean, can bring in 60 volunteers or more.
The duo says: "The Jersey public have been exceptionally supportive of our goals. Our volunteers are one of the most dedicated groups we know and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Beach cleaning is a fun way to get involved in the Jersey community and we have been attracting schools, Duke of Edinburgh students, scout groups, friends, families, corporate businesses and other marine conservation groups to participate and gain awareness of the importance of marine conservation."
Over four tonnes of debris are collected during the beach cleans every year, but the nature of it changes according to the season. Courtney and Andy explained: "The amount of rubbish collected is dependent on the season and the weather. Higher tides bring in more marine debris, and have a much larger impact on coastal environments. During the summer months it is more common to find domestic marine debris such as bottles, cans and food packaging as the beaches are being actively used and in the winter months we have a tendency to find more discarded fishing gear, roping and plastics."
Pictured: Even dogs join in the clean-up efforts, which sometimes bring in strange finds.
In Jersey the pair says the amount collected has increased slightly. They however hope that with the issue of marine plastic at the forefront of conservation efforts, the trend could be reversed. "The effects of marine debris have recently been largely documented in programs such as Blue Planet on the BBC educating viewers on its harmful effects to marine animals and oceanic ecosystems and how we can work together to minimise and prevent them.
"We would encourage all islanders to remove their rubbish and to never leave anything behind but footprints. This issue is the responsibility of the entire Island and not just one or two individuals or groups."
On top of their efforts to clean up local beaches, Littlefeet Environmental also works overseas, when funding and volunteer numbers allow it. They run a sea turtle conservation project in the Costa Maya region of Mexico. They explain: "We have teamed up with the local Mexican university, ECOSUR, who provide us with mentors and students along with groups of various international volunteers that assist with collecting data. With the use of snorkel and scuba surveys, we are able to hand-catch juvenile sea turtles and collect biopsy samples, measurements and tag them so that we can identify each specimen in the future.
"It is a great way to get Mexican fishing communities involved in the conservation efforts of their local species and educate them on the importance of sea turtles as a source of ecotourism rather than for consumption."
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