A nationwide survey of Irish beaches has found that Wexford's coastal areas are the cleanest in the country. Out of 42 marine locations assessed, just seven were deemed clean by European standards, two of which are situated in County Wexford.
Curracloe and Kilmore Quay were joined on the clean list by the River Nore in Kilkenny, with assessors stating that there was a 'virtual absence of litter' at Curracloe Beach. The other four marine environments to achieve the highest possible rating were Loughrea and Salthill (both Galway), the River Shannon (Leitrim) and Seapoint in Dublin.
Carried out by Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL), just 16% of areas surveyed were considered clean, while 14% were classed as being 'littered' or 'heavily littered'. The River Avoca in Wicklow was among the worst performing waterways in the country while the River Bannow in Carlow was described as having 'a very definite heavy litter presence … with a wide variety of regular litter, both land- and water-based'.
The River Slaney was one of those listed in the 'moderately littered' category along with Tramore beach in Waterford and the River Suir.
The most common forms of litter found by the assessors were food wrappers, plastic bottles, cans and cigarette butts. Fishing industry-related litter, including nets, ropes, strapping bands and floats, occurred throughout almost all marine sites.
Discussing the purpose of the study Conor Horgan of IBAL said, 'This is about protecting tourism and our recreational assets, but it is equally about global impact and our future - the litter we encounter in these areas will typically enter our seas and add to the problem of marine litter, which is threatening our very survival.'
'Litter as we know it has acquired a wholly new importance for society. This is especially true for an island like Ireland, where litter can readily wind its way to the sea irrespective of where it is dropped. When it comes to marine litter the sea starts at every household, street, green space and workplace,' said Mr Horgan.
Irish Business Against Litter has been conducting surveys of towns and cities since 2002 and has witnessed a rise in cleanliness over that period. This is the second year that the study has extended to coastal areas and waterways.
'We have seen significant improvement year on year but will keep putting pressure on local authorities and others to give priority to these areas and support the work of the thousands of volunteers cleaning litter from our coastlines. There is no reason why they should not be as clean as our towns,' Mr Horgan said.