Beach litter sourcing: A trawl along the Northern Ireland coastline

Fourteen non-recreational coastal locations in Northern Ireland were investigated as to whether beach litter deposition was related to seasonal or site specific factors. Litter items were counted in 100 m width transects and 1 km strand-line surveys over a five-season period (autumn to autumn). Survey sites comprised fishing ports; estuarine areas, north (high energy) and east coast (low energy) beaches. Fishing ports accumulated the most litter. In the 100 m beach surveys, plastics, string and cord, bottle caps, food items, rope, and drink containers dominated. In strand-line surveys, large plastic pieces were dominant, followed by rope, string and cord, strapping bands (absent on beach surveys), cloth, wood (mainly pallets, fish boxes) and metal items. Multivariate analyses revealed major litter category differences between the ports and all other sites, with a lesser distinction between exposed and estuarine sites. There was no simple coastline trend and no apparent effect of seasonality between samples.

A.T. Williams, P. Randerson, C. Allen, J.A.G. Cooper, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 17 June 2017, In Press

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