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Camber Sands nurdle hunt

Strandliners Review of 2023

Strandliners is a charitable organisation dedicated to cleaner rivers, cleaner seas and increasing public awareness of our environment through citizen science and community engagement. Beverley Coombes writes a review of their achievements in the last year.

2023 was a busy year for Strandliners. We continued the Plastic Pollution Project – and our first ever picks in the frost and snow in West Sussex! – into the spring and hosted our first Love Our Rother event in February.

Eastbourne Spring Water Festival Eco Fair

In May, we took part in Plastic Free Eastbourne’s Spring Water Festival: at the Eco Fair, Studio at the Lake, the Blue Planet @ Eastbourne conference, and also led seaweed searches for the Marine Conservation Society.

The first UK-wide Plasticblitz was launched in June, which we carried out at three sites. Just for fun, we gave many of our plastic ‘species’ a scientific name and description.

Plasticblitz Rye Harbour

During the summer we started our Young Strandliners group, and they have their own special newsletter, with activities to keep them busy until meet-ups start again.

The Great British Beach Clean took place in September. While we were only able to complete three surveys during the week, due to the stormy weather, we maintained our quarterly surveys at Dungeness. The Marine Conservation Society now include all surveys for their annual report, not just the GBBC surveys.

In October, we worked with Rother District Council and DK-CM, the architects developing the new welcome centre at Camber, in a community event featuring a brand audit litter survey and craft activities.

We also ran our ever-popular nurdle hunt for Fidra, subsequently featured in The Guardian. We also launched our Community Action Team (CAT) course, which was well received by all the participants. Look out for CAT 24 in the spring!

In December, Strandliners was invited to take part in the CaSTCo conference, an honour for such a small group amongst so many larger organisations. Led by the Rivers Trust, CaSTCo is a collaboration between academics, technical companies, NGOs and government organisations and the private sector. It aims to provide a national framework to standardise and share integrated data and build a much-needed evidence base for improved decision-making about our water environment.

Andy Dinsdale was one of five speakers given the challenge of ‘the lightening round’ – and delivered a presentation entitled ‘Plastics Monitoring And Campaigning: Challenges and successes in just five minutes!’ We also took part in workshops on a range of topics: volunteering, habitat assessment, collaborative monitoring and maximising the impact of our data, all of which gave us many ideas to bring back.

The conference provided us with a deeper insight into citizen science and underpinned its value, not only for the collection of data, but also its links to people’s connectedness to nature and wellbeing. The information on water quality testing was particularly valuable as this is an area Strandliners will develop, particularly for the Three Rivers Project coming up soon. One of our take-home messages was a quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Never complacent, Strandliners took part in training events themselves over the year, including bookkeeping, citizen science, storytelling, community projects and, of course, plastics, to keep up with the latest developments.

During 2023, Strandliners ran 40 survey events, with over 1,300 volunteer hours given. We removed more than 800 kg of rubbish from beaches and riverbanks, and (most importantly) identified and recorded over 25,000 items and passed the data to other organisations, including the Rivers Trust, the Marine Conservation Society, Fidra and Break Free From Plastic, who have greater power to lobby for change at a national or international level.

Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers – we could not do it without you.

Love Our Rother 2023

Strandliners will be hosting Love Our Rother 2024 in February. More details on the website here.

Strandliners email:

There are a couple of articles in Rye News that relate to events if you wish to refer to them: ‘Love our Rother 2023’ and ‘Young Strandliners find dangerous invaders’.

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Posted 09:26 Saturday, Feb 3, 2024 In: Campaigns

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