Litter is swamping our oceans. It kills wildlife, is a hazard to our health and costs millions to clear up. Wildlife are in danger of ropes, nets and fishing lines that can ensnare them. Plastic bags, polystyrene pieces and other items can be swallowed by all sorts of animals. We know that seabirds – like the Fulmar found around our shores – can take in loads of tiny plastic pieces, instead of the nutritious floating plankton they normally eat.

There is simply too much rubbish getting into the sea. Over a few days in September 2014, 5,349 Marine Conservation Society volunteers cleaned 301 beaches. For every kilometre surveyed, they found 2,457 pieces of litter. Sadly, this is more than double the quantity of litter found when the Marine Conservation Society began their clean-ups over twenty years ago.

Thankfully, with the support of People's Postcode Lottery players, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is cleaning up litter and helping to stop it getting there in the future. This is the time of year when the MCS team is at its busiest, organising thousands of people all around Britain for the Great British Beach Clean. During each clean, volunteers record items they find on a survey sheet. MCS takes this data to build up a picture of the types, sources and quantities of litter on our beaches.

Fortunately, you can take part! If you have a couple of hours to spare from 18th to 20th September, MCS would love to see you on the beach. To see if there's coastline that you could help MCS care for, visit the MCS Beachwatch events page.

MCS has been awarded £200,000 since December 2014 to fund its marine litter projects, as well as its sustainable seafood work. This includes the Good Fish Guide website and mobile apps, and the fabulous new pocket-sized Good Fish Guide.

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A group of Marine Conservation Society volunteers celebrate a successful day of cleaning