The problem of plastic in our seas and oceans has hardly been off our TV screens and newspaper pages lately. So much plastic gets into the sea and harms our marine wildlife. Plastic is often used for a moment, but lasts a lifetime in our oceans. Plastic bags, polystyrene pieces and other items can be swallowed by many kinds of animal. We know that seabirds – like the Fulmar found around our UK shores – can take in gutfuls of tiny plastic pieces, instead of the nutritious food they normally eat.
Thanks to the work of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), change is happening. The charge for plastic bags means there are billions fewer being handed out to shoppers, and ending up in rubbish bins or, worse, blowing around our streets and sea. Microbeads - tiny plastic pieces - are now banned from cosmetics and toothpastes that we wash down the sink.
With the support of players of People's Postcode Lottery, the Marine Conservation Society is cleaning up beach litter, and helping to stop it getting there in the first place.
This is the time of year when the MCS team is at its busiest, organizing thousands of people in beach cleans all around the UK for the Great British Beach Clean. During each beach clean, volunteers record every item they find on a survey sheet. The Marine Conservation Society takes this data to build up a picture of the types, sources and quantities of litter ending up on our beaches, and uses this information to show where the problems lie.
MCS has been awarded £1.5 Million from players of People's Postcode Lottery to fund their marine litter projects and sustainable seafood work. This includes the Good Fish Guide website and mobile apps.
MCS also runs wildlife protection and recording surveys, campaigns and education work. Find out more about their work and get involved at www.mcsuk.org.