A group of local volunteers who cleaned over one tonne of marine litter off the beach at Tullaghan have been recognised for their community spirit with an Ocean Hero Award.
The Clean Coasts programme hosted the Ocean Talks and Ocean Hero Awards on November 21 last at the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin.
Northwest Coastal Cleanups was established in 2017 and are the first Leitrim Clean Coasts Group.
They did their first beach clean at Tullaghan shoreline for Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week on World Oceans Day on June 8.
The beach clean saw over fifty people take part over the course of three hours.
Vans were used to transport rubbish to a main collection point and extra supplies had to be got for this clean-up that brought together the whole coastal community of Leitrim.
No one could have estimated the amount of litter that would be collected. The group worked with Leitrim County Council who arranged collection of the litter and recorded the amount as being over 1 tonne of marine litter.
The presence of marine litter in our oceans is a global concern that requires action.
Adequate measures are needed to address the impacts of litter in the marine environment both at sea and on land whereby public awareness and community action plays a vital role.
The Clean Coasts Ocean Talks and Ocean Hero Awards brought together key stakeholders in the area of marine litter such as coastal communities, NGOs, tourism bodies, the science community, business and the fishing industry.
This year Clean Coasts’ Ocean Hero Awards was celebrating eleven years of honouring the invaluable contribution Ireland’s coastal communities have made towards conserving our spectacular coastline.
The awards, originally known as the ‘Merit Awards’, were conceived in 2006, consisting then of only one category, ‘The Clean Coasts’ Group of the Year’. Since then the Clean Coasts’ programme has grown to engage over 600 Clean Coasts groups, becoming embedded in many coastal communities nationwide.
In an effort to recognise this growth the number of Ocean Hero categories have also expanded to include, Individual of the Year, Bright Idea of the Year, School of the Year, Business of the Year and Beach Clean of the Year.
Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager with An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit said “Over the past 11 years the Clean Coasts programme’s Ocean Hero Awards have really brought to the fore the remarkable work and wonderful coastal celebration events that Clean Coasts volunteers have been involved in along the Irish coastline. This year has been no different as we received inspirational nominations that show the true dedication of these coastal custodians.”
Among the Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Award Winners 2017 was another local winner, Seamus McGoldrick, Strandhill, Co. Sligo who won the Ocean Hero Award for Individual of the Year.
The man behind Northwest Coastal Cleanups
Paul Gallagher is the man behind the creation of the Northwest Coastal Cleanups group. He has brought together the local community and surfers alike with his inspired beach cleans.
Not only is he determined to help protect our beaches, seas and marine life but he also puts a lot of effort into scouting out locations and finding the parts of our Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo coastline that are in need of the most help.
Since the group began in only June of this year, he has organized four beach cleans as well as participating in others. He is also the person who filmed and edited the Moby Dick whale art project on Cliffoney beach for the group and runs a great Facebook page to encourage more people to participate.