The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) urgently needs volunteers to take part in the UK’s biggest beach litter survey and cleanup taking place over the weekend of 19th – 20th September 2009.  MCS needs your help to tackle the problems of beach litter and to help make our Beachwatch Big Weekend event the biggest ever!

The tide of litter washing up on our shores is not just unpleasant to look at, it can harm and kill some of our best-loved marine wildlife. Over 170 species of marine wildlife including seabirds, turtles and whales have mistaken marine litter for food resulting in starvation, poisoning and fatal stomach blockages.  Plastic packaging and discarded fishing nets also injure, entangle and drown some of Britain’s favourite marine animals, including seals and dolphins.

Emma Snowden, MCS Litter Projects Co-ordinator says, “If you care about our amazing marine wildlife and are concerned about the growing tide of litter in the UK, this is your chance to make a difference.  The information you collect will help us to tackle the sources of litter and campaign to reduce the most common items ending up on our beaches and killing wildlife.”

Our surveys have recorded a 110% increase in the amount of beach litter compared to 1994.  The four main sources of litter found on UK beaches come from the public, fishing, sanitary waste (particularly cotton bud sticks) and shipping.

Over 5,000 volunteers took part in Beachwatch 2008, cleaning and surveying over 370 beaches and collecting over 385,000 pieces of litter on just one weekend.  Our survey recorded an average of 2,195 items of litter per kilometre on UK beaches, that’s over two items for every metre of beach surveyed!

Thousands of volunteers take part in Beachwatch Big Weekend every year, ensuring that the event continues to be the biggest and most influential project in the fight against beach litter in the UK. MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend provides a simple and effective way in which everyone can help tackle the relentless tide of rubbish on our beaches and at sea.

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.  MCS is now calling for UK governments to develop an action plan to tackle marine litter, if you feel strongly about this issue please sign our petition at

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 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.”

Register online at: or telephone the litter team on 01989 567807.