The two main measures for removal of plastic from the seas surrounding Ireland are the Clean Coasts programme, operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce, and the Clean Oceans Initiative, incorporating the international Fishing for Litter programme, which is managed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara.
Clean Coasts is funded and supported my Department and is incorporated into our national Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) Programme of Measures as an action to reduce marine litter. Clean Coasts continues to grow and, despite Covid, now has 1,860 active registered groups incorporating approximately 37,000 volunteers. An Taisce estimate that a minimum of 1,350 tonnes of litter was removed by groups in local coastal clean ups in 2021. In addition to the regular clean ups, 405 groups registered for the annual Big Beach Clean event in 2021 removing further estimated 42 tonnes of litter from beaches.
Since 2015 to Quarter 3 2021, the Fishing for Litter programme, part of Bord Iascaigh Mhara's Clean Ocean Initiative, has retrieved and disposed over 670 tonnes of marine litter through a national network of 12 ports with voluntary participation of 144 fishing vessels. In addition, since 2018 the aquaculture sector has retrieved over 165 tonnes of marine litter from commercial shore sites. Further information on the Clean Ocean Initiative is available from the Department of Agriculture food and the Marine.
As well as removing marine litter it is vital to reduce inputs of marine litter into the marine environment in the first place. Effective waste and litter management and control on land and at sea is key to achieving this. Accordingly a wide range of national and transboundary measures implemented across Government Departments and State Agencies are also incorporated into our national MSFD Programme of Measures as actions to reduce the impact of marine litter.