A shore way to save lives

Friends member Michelle Stannard and the 'Litter Lilly' she made from things found in the estuary.
Friends member Michelle Stannard and the 'Litter Lilly' she made from things found in the estuary.

A new coastal clean-up campaign which could save lives has been launched.

The Friends of the Estuary Coastal Care Group has declared war on litter at sea – and the town’s fishermen are giving it their full support.

The group has already topped 3,000 bags of rubbish in five years of litter-picking along Lytham’s foreshore.

And it is now working closely with the Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority to introduce the new initiative entitled Fishing For Litter, under which local professional and recreational fishermen have been provided with re-usable recycled post sacks to recover litter from nets and taken to the shore.

Bins have been provided at Seafield Road slipway by Fylde Council, which is also backing the scheme along with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and HM Coastguard. Helping preserve wildlife is a key objective for the Friends, but RNLI coxswain Martin Jaggs says the potentially damaging effect that carelessly-discarded rubbish at sea can have on shipping can also be life-threatening to humans.

He said: “This is a great idea.

“Anything which helps clear rubbish at sea and off the shore has to be welcomed.

“We have had problems in the past with cockle bags which can wrap themselves around the propellers of the inshore lifeboat and present a potential delay to getting out on a call which could be life-threatening.

“All credit to the Friends for this initiative.”

The idea for the Fishing for Litter initiative came about after Friends group member Michelle Stannard found a dogfish trapped in a cockle bag while walking on St Annes beach with her dog.

She said: “When Billy, my Labrador, found a spotted dogfish on St Annes beach, trapped in a cockle bag, I knew we should be doing more.

“We collect the litter that arrives on the shore, but with Fishing for Litter, we now tackle the problem at every stage and Fylde Council deal with what is collected.”

A Fylde Council spokesman said: “Seawater quality is important for residents and vital for the tourism economy as well as local fishermen.

“Fylde Council is working with voluntary groups and other councils to clean up the sea and foreshore and we are pleased to see that fishermen are playing their part.”

Paul Sumner, a long-time Lytham fisherman, said: “It’s a good idea and has been working well.

“This is really the ideal way to address the problem of plastic and polythene. A lot of that drifts at sea and is damaging to wildlife.”

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