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Plastic-wrapped poo poses threat to beach cleanliness as dog owners bag it but don’t bin it.
Piles of dog poo shrink-wrapped in plastic bags could threaten the health and safety of beach visitors according to the latest beach litter data collected by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) in 2011 and published today in its Beachwatch Big Weekend Report.
46 beaches across Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and West Sussex - including Southsea, Hayling Island, Shanklin, Bracklesham Bay, Hengistbury Head and Chesil Cove - were included in the survey.
The charity says poop, scooped in bags and left on UK beaches, rose over 11% between 2010 and 2011.
MCS Beachwatch Officer, Lauren Davis, says the findings reveal good and bad habits: “We’re delighted that pet owners enjoy dog friendly beaches and clearly think ahead by carrying poop scoop bags. But we hope our findings will now encourage them to take the bag off the beach and bin it in one of the many receptacles provided for the job. Leaving a bag full of poo on the beach will result in preserved excrement, protected from the elements for years by a bag which could take a long time to break down.
“We don’t want children picking up bags that break open and spill their contents whether it’s fresh or ‘mature’. Dog poo is a source of high levels of bacteria and can lead to reduced water quality, and poses a human health risk.”
Despite an increase in poop scoop bags on our beaches, overall shore litter has dropped by 11% between 2010 and 2011.
“The latest results from our weekend long Beachwatch event held on the 17th and 18th September last year are more encouraging than they have been for a while,” says Lauren Davis. “Not only did beach litter drop overall, we also saw a substantial dip of 33% in the amount of sewage related debris (SRD) on our beaches – that’s the stuff people put down their loos but shouldn’t, like cotton buds, condoms, sanitary towels and tampon applicators. In 2010 there was a 40% rise in SRD compared to the previous year, but after we’d highlighted the issue and urged people to change their habits, the latest data looks like the message may be getting home.”
The MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend 2011 results were collected by almost 4,500 volunteers who cleaned 335 beaches, covering a total of 142.3 kilometres. 247,914 items of litter were collected filling over 2,177 bags.