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Holidaymakers heading to Tiree are being invited to help maintain the island’s pristine beaches after volunteers cleared 20 tonnes of marine litter from its shores.
Islanders are now looking at enlisting the help of tourists arriving on CalMac ferries to litter-pick while they are visiting the island, including those coming for July’s Tiree Music Festival and the Tiree Wave Classic in October.
Last month more than 110 residents waged war on beach litter over one weekend to tidy Tiree before the start of the big tourist rush.
Teams of all ages bagged a square of coastline marked out on a map co-ordinated by island ranger Stephanie Cope to help rid the island of washed-up debris – in all, the volunteers covered about 60 per cent of the shoreline taking before and after photos.
Beachcomber Craft Cafe put up a prize meal to the team that collected the most, won by Claire Vale and company.
‘We had not anticipated that amount of litter so it was a challenge to lift it. It turned into a monster. We expected to come away with lots of plastic bottles but in the main it was fishing gear that made up the vast majority of what we collected, which was disappointing – creels, tangled ropes. There were plastic bottles and that type of waste but it was less prevalent,’ said Ms Cope.
The map helped litter pickers focus on more remote areas not usually covered by regular beach-cleans and help from businessman Willie Angus who runs Wild Diamond Watersports on the island was ‘ a life-saver’ with his four-wheel drive and trailer that could get onto the beach, added Ms Cope.
‘Tiree is spectacular. It’s a wonderful place to live and visit. It’s a bit of a shame we’ve got to ask visitors for this kind of help while they are enjoying their time here but it’s a lovely thing for them to give back to the island, helping keep the beautiful beaches tidy. We hope they will happily get involved and pledge their support before they arrive.’
Ferry operator CalMac has a full-time wildlife officer to help educate crew and passengers about marine life along the West Coast.
‘We would love to set up a system involving CalMac,’ said Ms Cope.
To keep in touch with Tidy Tiree go to facebook.com/Isle-of-Tiree