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Salmon farmer lending hundreds of hands to beaches clean-up

A beach clean involving SSF staff at Taing, Cliftsound, Shetland in 2019. Photographer: Gordon Siegel.
A beach clean involving SSF staff at Taing, Cliftsound, Shetland in 2019. Photographer: Gordon Siegel.

Salmon producer Scottish Sea Farms is planning its biggest-ever involvement in the annual Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Great British Beach Clean, which this year takes place from September 17-26.

The company has asked all the 480-plus staff employed across its operations on the west coast, Orkney and Shetland to participate by choosing a registered beach local to them and helping to collect rubbish along a 100-metre stretch.

It will be SSF’s fourth consecutive year of participation. Last year’s involvement was restricted to employees only, operating in work “bubbles” in line with Covid guidance, but this year’s beach cleans will again be opened up to employees’ families, friends and local communities.

Jim Gallagher:
Jim Gallagher: "The more of us that get involved, the greater the difference we can make."

‘The right thing to do’

SSF managing director Jim Gallagher said: “We each, in our different ways, make our living from Scotland’s waters. We each care deeply about doing so as responsibly and sustainably as we can, as evidenced by the sheer range of greener initiatives under way across the business today. So, to devote a few more hours of our time to help collect and remove rubbish from our local shorelines seems like the right and natural thing to do.

“The more of us that get involved, the greater the difference we can make, so we’re delighted to be able to welcome back family, friends and members of our local communities.”

As well as removing litter, participants will also record what they find so the MCS can compile a national database to help inform and shape future policy around protecting the shoreline.

Data from previous clean-ups around the country has helped bring about environmental advances such as the introduction of the plastic bag charge, banning microplastics in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and supporting a tax on single-use plastic items.

A beach clean at Teithil, Barcaldine, in 2019. Photographer: West Coast Photos / SSF.
A beach clean at Teithil, Barcaldine, in 2019. Photographer: West Coast Photos / SSF.
A clean-up at Echna Loch Bay, Orkney, attended by Orkney MSP Liam McArthur (wooly hat). Photo: SSF.
A clean-up at Echna Loch Bay, Orkney, attended by Orkney MSP Liam McArthur (wooly hat). Photo: SSF.

To support this year’s beach cleans, 10 SSF beach clean coordinators have volunteered to oversee efforts in their communities in Barcaldine, Eriboll, Kishorn, Mallaig, Mull, Oban, South Shian and the Summer Isles on the Scottish mainland, and in Orkney and Shetland.

Their duties include registering their local beach cleans, completing a litter survey for the MCS database, delivering safety briefings and issuing protective gloves and bags, as well as packed lunches, to all those involved.

A vital campaign

SSF environmental scientist Kirsty Brown, a regular beach clean leader based in Orkney, said she was proud that what had been a relatively small, localised endeavour had now been embraced by the entire company.

“Having taken part in the Great British Beach Clean for the past three years, we were keen to continue our own local support of this vital nationwide campaign,” said Brown.

“But to know that this year we will be supported by colleagues from across our farming estate, all pitching in to help clean their own local beaches, is really great to see.”