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Karina Robinson   Thu 03 Oct 2019

Saturday 21st September 2019 was International Coastal Clean Up Day and for one old Bangor-based wooden fishing boat it was ‘business as usual’ as willing hands hauled a bulging net aboard…

The Seabird no longer nets herring, however - her catch of the day was thousands of pieces of waste plastic, gathered from the waters and beaches of Belfast Lough by groups of local volunteers under the Live Here Love Here banner!

Operated by the recently formed eco-charity Citizen Sea, this was Seabird’s first mission on ‘active service’ in the fight to save our seas from plastic and other pollutants.

With a volunteer crew and skippered by experienced Portavogie fisherman Robert Coffey, the Seabird is based at Bangor Marina, where she can be easily accessed by groups of school children and young people, in her role as an on-the-water research and education facility.

Saturday 21st September saw the Seabird, in concert with another former fishing vessel, Whaleheart, act as a floating collection point for the refuse gathered by volunteers from the beaches and tidelines of Belfast Lough.

Commenting on the event, Citizen Sea co-founder Tony McLoughlin said, “We are overwhelmed by the response from local communities in the Belfast Lough area to our first environmental plastics action. Seabird became a mothership and carried all the collected bags of waste into the Abercorn Basin. The day’s ‘catch’ comprised 3300 cubic litres of waste! Our aim is to highlight the amount of plastic waste entering our coastal waters and to raise awareness amongst our citizenship.”

Echoing her co-founder’s comments, Citizen Sea Director Jen Firth said, “We would like to thank the local community groups, Live Here Love Here, Beach Cleaners Ards and North Down, Seasearch, the Whitehead Wombles, Ulidia Primary School, Mid and East Antrim Council, Jordanstown Swimmers, Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, Carrickfergus Harbour and all the local people who got involved. We are also indebted to our supporting vessels Whaleheart and Sail Ability - for delivering our cargo safely - and to Belfast Harbour, Ards and North Down Council and Quay Marinas Bangor.”