Fish farmer asks all 500 staff to help clean beaches

Scottish Sea Farms' beach clean in 2019 at Teithil beach, where its Barcaldine Hatchery team were joined by Gael Force Fusion.

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With just three weeks to go until the annual Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Great British Beach Clean, on September 17-26, salmon farmer Scottish Sea Farms plans to make this year’s event its biggest yet.

The company has asked all staff – more than 480 employees across its operations on Scotland’s west coast, Orkney and Shetland Islands – to participate by choosing a registered beach local to them and helping to collect rubbish along a 100m stretch.

This will be Scottish Sea Farms’ fourth consecutive year of participation, with the company’s Orkney, Shetland and Barcaldine teams having led the charge previously.

And whilst last year’s involvement was restricted to employees only, operating in work ‘bubbles’ in line with Covid guidance, this year’s beach cleans will once again be opened up to employees’ families, friends and local communities with restrictions now having eased.

Commenting on the decision to make participation in this year’s Great British Beach Clean a business-wide effort, Scottish Sea Farms managing director Jim Gallagher said: ‘We each, in our different ways, make our living from Scotland’s waters. We each care deeply about doing so as responsibly and sustainably as we can, as evidenced by the sheer range of greener initiatives under way across the business today. So to devote a few more hours of our time to help collect and remove rubbish from our local shorelines seems like the right and natural thing to do.

‘The more of us that get involved, the greater the difference we can make, so we’re delighted to be able to welcome back family, friends and members of our local communities.’

Not only will participants be removing litter, they will also be recording what they find so the MCS can compile a national database to help inform and shape future policy around protecting our shores.

Previous beach cleans have revealed a high proportion of plastic and polystyrene among the rubbish collected, as well as metal, wood, pottery and ceramics, glass, paper and cardboard, rubber, cloth and sanitary waste.

The MCS said collating this data has helped to make a positive impact on the ocean, with the information driving the its conservation work and also feeding into the International Coastal Clean-up.

Data from previous hauls around the country has helped bring about environmental advances such as the introduction of the plastic bag charge, banning microplastics in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and supporting a tax on single-use plastic items.

Supporting this year’s event, 10 Scottish Sea Farms beach clean coordinators have volunteered to oversee efforts in their communities: from Barcaldine, Eriboll, Kishorn, Mallaig, Mull, Oban, South Shian and the Summer Isles, to the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

Each coordinator is responsible for registering their local beach cleans, completing a survey of the litter collected and submitting the data to the MCS national database.
They will also deliver safety briefings on the day and issue protective gloves and bags, as well as packed lunches, to all those involved.

Scottish Sea Farms aquaculture technical lead Anna Price, beach clean coordinator for the Oban area, said: ‘Our Oban teams are no strangers to beach cleans, carrying out several throughout the year – particularly following spells of extreme weather – and removing all manner of marine litter and man-made waste.

‘Signing up to the MCS Great British Beach Clean not only adds to this activity but it will provide useful insights into the main sources of waste being washed onto our local shores, helping inform preventative measures going forward.’

A full list of all Scottish Sea Farms beach cleans will be made available online at this week, once the registration process has been completed, along with details of how to register attendance in advance.