By BRIAN MOORE
THE volunteers were out in force again this year as the annual Bantry Bay clean-up got underway.
The project, carried out on the many beaches and inlets across the Bay, is seen as an essential part of the preparation for the coming tourism season.
‘This annual clean-up initiative was started by the old Bantry Bay Harbour Authority and we were all asked to help which we, as mussel farmers,are happy to do,’ secretary of Bantry Fish Farming Co-op, Finian O’Sullivan, told The Southern Star.
‘Discarded rubbish is a major nuisance, especially when it ends up in the sea and can then turn up anywhere. The annual clean-up initiative is supported and encouraged by the Bantry Bay Port Company and organised through the Bay Users Forum with the support of Teddy Browne, Cork County Council and BIM who, along with the Bantry Bay Port Company, pick up the tab for the disposal of the collected material,’ Mr O’Sullivan continued.
Volunteers from local communities along the coast from the north side of the Sheep’s Head, down the Beara peninsula to Castletownbere, all give their time working to remove as much rubbish from the shoreline as possible.
‘The mussel producers provide the boats and personnel with the expertise to retrieve the rubbish from areas which are not easily accessible by road, to make a difficult task as easy as possible,’ explained Mr O’Sullivan.
‘For us mussel growers, we have changed our growing systems in the mussel farming to use less plastic and we have a policy of reduce, re-use and recyce. We have Organic status for our growing systems and waste management is part of all our operations. Our operations are much better now than when the industry began over 30 years ago, using less plastic material nowadays and bio- degradable cottons which melt away into the marine environment,’ Mr O’Sullivan continued.
In Bantry, along with volunteers from across the community, the fourth-year students from Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí turned out to lend a hand.
‘We want to thank all those who helped and volunteered during this year’s clean-up. Once again it shows great community spirit and effort and we can all be proud of the area and the bay were we live and work,’ he said.