Only 16% of Ireland’s coast and waterways are clean, according to a new survey.
Out of 42 areas included in the survey, one-in-six was classed as ‘clean’ – while 14% were found to be ‘littered’ or ‘heavily littered.’
The most common forms of litter found were food wrappers, plastic bottles, cans and cigarette butts.
Salthill in Galway was found to be one of the cleanest beaches, alongside Curracloe in Wexford and Seapoint in Dublin.
Lough Rea and the River Shannon at Carrick-on-Shannon was found to be clean, alongside the Nore in Kilkenny.
The Barrow in Carlow town and the Tolka in Dublin were both heavily littered as was Cork Harbour near Midleton – which was found to be among the worst areas surveyed.
The survey found improvements at Clare’s Doolin Pier – which has gone from being a litter black spot to “moderately littered.”
Bundoran, Dingle, Kinsale and Lahinch were also found to be moderately littered.
The survey was carried out by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL).
“This is about protecting tourism and our recreational assets, but it is equally about global impact and our future,” said spokesperson Conor Horgan. “The litter we encounter in these areas will typically enter our seas and add to the problem of marine litter, which is threatening our very survival.”
He said large amounts of Ireland’s litter ends up in our waterways where it has an adverse effect on marine life.
“Litter as we know it has acquired a wholly new importance for society,” he said. “This is especially true for an island like Ireland, where litter can readily wind its way to the sea irrespective of where it is dropped.
“When it comes to marine litter, the sea starts at every household, street, green space and workplace.”
The six most heavily litters areas in the survey were:
- The River Barrow at Carlow Town
- Cork Harbour at Midleton
- River Tolka near Annesley Bridge
- River Avoca near Arklow
- Balbriggan beach and harbour
- Cork Harbour