Damage caused by littering from land-based recreation
Glass bottles and jars
Angling line and lead weights
Discarded shotgun cartridges
Although the source of most marine pollution
is industrial activity and agriculture, recreational activities
can contribute to localised pollution issues. Perhaps the most
obvious issue linked to recreation in coastal areas is that
of discarded litter. Although the amenity impact of litter is
more significant than its environmental impact, discarded litter
can have direct impacts on both plant and animal species which
inhabit designated coastal features. The following section reviews
some of the different types of litter and their possible implications
for the environment.
Much of the plastic found in coastal areas
is derived from accidental spillage from ships or from factories
close to rivers. There is no doubt, however, that in areas of
intensive recreational activities, litter from participants
can contribute to localised problems.
Food and equipment packaging tends to be the
most commonly discarded item connected to recreational activities.
These can enter the marine environment either because of deliberate
littering or from overflowing or inappropriately designed waste
The very characteristics that make plastic
so useful - strength, durability and light weight - tend to
make it the most persistent and visible form of rubbish. Not
only is plastic litter unsightly, it can be dangerous to birds
and animals. Birds and fish can often mistake plastic floating
in the water for food and, once ingested, it can cause severe
internal injuries. Wildlife can also become caught up in discarded
plastic, with four pack plastic holders being a particular problem.
Discarded paper is largely an aesthetic issue
and is unlikely to have any significant environmental impacts
on features or their associated flora and fauna.
Glass Bottles and Jars
Discarded glass containers are unlikely to
cause direct damage to a marine feature, but can ignite fires
in the vicinity of a feature. This can have a severe effect
on the vegetation and species in those areas. In addition, glass
and broken glass can be hazardous to small mammals which live
in the vicinity of the designated areas.
Dog walking is one of the most popular recreational
activities in coastal areas. The problems associated with dog
faeces are largely an amenity issue and cause little or no significant
impacts to marine features.
Angling Line and Lead Weights
Accidentally or deliberately discarded nylon
line and netting have no impacts on the geomorphology of designated
habitats but can have an impact on designated species, such
as seals, particularly in the vicinity of typical haul out sites.
Line and equipment discarded in intertidal areas can also adversely
affect wading birds by becoming entangled around their legs.
Ingested lead weights can cause serious illness in marine wildlife.
Discarded Shotgun Cartridges
Spent shotgun cartridges from wildfowling and other hunting
activities are unlikely to have any significant impact on marine
features, other than those related to amenity, although they
may cause impacts to wildlife if ingested.