PLAYING OUR PART
Islay’s beaches face a constant flow of marine litter, damaging wildlife, our island’s appeal to visitors and its prosperity. In our lifetimes, the flow of litter will not stop.
The litter is largely plastic and it’s not local. Some comes from as far afield as Russia, but we have seen litter from all over the world.
While we can’t halt the global problem, we can gather as much marine litter as we can, as often as we can, from as much of our coastline as possible.
And that’s what we’re doing. Islay Development Initiative is the only organisation in the UK with full-time beach rangers. Since 2006, we have shifted over 400 tonnes of marine litter – but of course there’s always more.
FUNDING AND SUSTAINABILITY
Around 50% of the funding needed for this project has come from Scottish Community Landfill Fund; this isn’t guaranteed and has to be applied for annually. The remaining 50% is obtained through other funders such as the Schroder Foundation, re-use sales of donated items and donations. Every year there is a significant risk of not being able to deliver this vital project.
Islay Development Initiative received an award from Laphroaig Legacy and Mactaggart Third Fund to develop a visitor gifting scheme, so that the project could remain sustainable. Funding beach rangers is the main reason we are to introduce Visitor Gifting.
In May 2017 we launched the ‘For Our Shores’ project and welcomed the wonderful Barbara de Vries, marine litter activist, author and journalist. Barbara came all the way from Miami to help deliver workshops with all of Islay’s and Jura’s schoolchildren, many of whom have since volunteered to help clean their adopted beaches.
At the final event we announced the next stage of the project – to augment existing funds by capturing the love people have for Islay through the visitor gifting scheme.
Barbara was so impressed by our Marine Litter Initiative that she wrote a book, ‘Away is Here’. This was presented to Roseanna Cunninghame MSP on a visit to IDI and paved the way for an invitation to the Scottish Government Marine Litter Summit in Oban in June 2018. This is to be followed by the 2019 global marine litter conference in Glasgow, with a very strong representation from Islay.
We are now working in with Ron Steenvorden, owner of Islay Info, to help communicate and deliver important projects such as this. In addition, Sir John Mactaggart continues to support our work, as does the Schroder family.
Funds raised enable us to employ young people with barriers to employment to help us in the fight against marine litter. This project employs 1.5 FTE staff.
There are positive benefits for Islay’s wildlife and tourism.
For example, RSPB says: “Marine litter is a global problem and is one of many factors affecting our seabirds and marine life. Given increasing global plastic production, the RSPB sees it as an increasing cause for concern that requires coordinated and global action.
There is growing evidence of the effects of marine litter on seabirds and other wildlife, including entanglement and ingestion, which can cause injury, starvation or reduced condition.
The RSPB welcomes and supports the actions of the growing number of cross sector organisations concerned with finding practical solutions to addressing the issue of marine litter.”
While IJTMG says: “The visual impact of marine litter is highly detrimental to visitors’ enjoyment of the Islay and Jura coastlines. That is multiplied by their increasing knowledge of the effect marine litter has on seabirds and all marine life. In what should be pristine seas, the major appeals of glorious beaches and abundant wildlife are seriously threatened by this preventable pollution.”