The State of our Beaches

One pair mens undies – white, one men’s left flipflop – black, four assorted lengths of rope, one nappy, two cistern ball floats used as fishing floats, two pallet straps, four plastic bottles, two pieces of expanded foam padding, three plastic bottle caps, one piece polystyrene,  two  unidentified pieces of plastic, one piece of  plastic mesh, and one glass pickled vegetable jar from Malaysia.

This is what I’ve found in the first three hundred yards of St Ouens beach, south of Le Braye slip on the 22nd June 2011 (a Wednesday)

It’s interesting how different weather conditions affect the beaches in different ways. One is that the recent constant strong westerly winds have blown a huge amount of plastic bottles up to the wall. I counted thirty three buried in the sand in the space of a couple of hundred yards. Once I started taking notice of the bottles though, I realised there was so much more as well. Fishing gear, pots, ropes, and what I call pelagic waste, such as long surviving plastics from the open sea, numerous pallet boards and pieces of wood, and amongst many other things, a Hitachi fridge, which last time I looked was still lying beneath Le Braye cafe. (still there 29/12/2011)

I know much of the plastic isn’t local waste, but rubbish carried on the tides and currents. That doesn’t mean we can just ignore it though. A horrifying statistic is that the plastic floating in the Pacific ocean covers an area the size of France. Much of this plastic doesn’t just disappear and break down – it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces which tend to be noticed less but still reside in the environment for many many years.

Strong winds on the beach also have the characteristic of blowing the sand away to expose heavier objects and nowhere is this more relevant than on St. Brelades beach where it reveals how much glass is down there. St. Brelades has always been bad for glass;  I walked one end to the other last week and picked up twenty one pieces of glass, mostly from the busier west end of the bay.

Last Sunday morning at St. Ouen’s I met a beachcomber – a man doing what I try and do now when I walk on the beach; he was picking up rubbish. When he left it was with three full bags. This Sunday I noticed another doing it – a surfer walking his dog. This morning I saw the beachcomber again – he had filled nine bags with rubbish.

The beaches are our gems, our pride and joy. We boast about them when we are away, they define this island, our home. I have travelled the world and it is actually difficult to find better beaches. Unfortunately though, ours now have a distinctly uncared for air, and that is a tragedy.

Do we really, as an island, place such little value on the beaches now that we will let this continue? Or will responsibility be left to those who’s consciences just won’t let them walk by and ignore it.

Photos taken St. Ouens, Le Braye, Jersey December 2011


Email to TTS: 17/12/11 13:35 I will post their reply if I ever get one.


Can you tell me who is responsible for removing rubbish from beaches please.

Many thanks


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  1. This courtesy of Save our Shoreline via Facebook:

    Glad to see so many people care about our marine environment and in this case the litter left on our beaches. Picking up bags of litter from your local beach is a service to the environmnet and can and will save the lives of marine animals and seabirds. Much plastic and foam gets blown off the tip head at La Collette as can be seen in our photo gallery and some reportedly ends up on the beaches of Normandy. The foam component breaks down and is ingested by birds and fish and can be fatal.

  2. After emailing TTS again, I have today had a very helpful conversation with a member of the department responsible for beaches and as we speak (4/1/12) there are crews collecting rubbish from St. Ouens beach.

    I am hoping to learn more about the resources TTS have available to care for the beaches throughout the year and whether it is enough in light of the growing problem of rubbish being washed up from the sea – and if not how we push for more resources to be made available to them.

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