NARC in Action 2009
Haverfordwest River clean-up March 28
Sunshine and blue skies were on offer for our first clean-up of the year and not a wave in sight. This dive into the western Cleddau was in support of the Keep Wales Tidy Towns project which was focusing on the market town of Haverfordwest. A great effort by all in getting up so early on a Sunday morning considering it was the first day of British Summer Time. We covered the area between the two bridges in Town and found a wide range of rubbish. The obligatory traffic cones and shopping trolleys were pulled from the river bed along with cafe signs, traffic signs, bikes, scooters, wheels, pipes, girders, ornaments, CD’s, pint glasses, a radio, 18p in loose change and even a complete BT phone box door.
Many thanks to all the volunteers for turning this into a very successful event and to the County Council for providing a skip. Also thanks to BBC Radio Wales for covering the clean-up and raising awareness of our group and underwater litter.
Western Way April 17th
A friday evening saw us begin a clean up at Western Way in Pembroke Dock. Whilst we did’nt need to don SCUBA gear for this we certainly needed waders and drysuits to wade through the mud at this spot on the Milford Haven Waterway. Among an array of litter the group removed 9 shopping trolleys, push bikes, a pram, revolving chair, and a number of traffic cones. A big thank you to all who helped out including the Pembroke Dock Community Web project who took photos and film of the event for their website.
Hobbs Point May 16th
The rain and howling wind did’nt stop us jumping into the Milford Haven Waterway on Saturday Morning. Once again this site really highlights the problems of fly-tipping where we managed to collect a huge array of items not naturally found in an estuary particularly one with European conservation value. We managed to fill a skip with the obligatory shopping trolley, bags full of kitchen tiles, CD’s, batteries, tyres, plastics of all description, glass bottles, almost 100 angling weights and endless amounts of line.
A large section of matting (see below) was found that was acting as a magnet for angling equipment. This type of scenario is common where litter can snag lines of anglers compounding the problem further, in this case a dogfish was also tangled up in the mess. However a lobster, crabs and small fish were returned unharmed to the water. A great effort by all the volunteers, divers and shore helpers alike and a big thank you to Llanreath divers and Llantrisant sub aqua club for supplying boat cover. This event was sponsored by the Milford Haven Port Authority and Action Earth.
Milford Haven Sea Cadets Clean-up May 19th
Our first ever totally freshwater clean-up saw us muck in and help the Milford Haven Sea Cadets clean the pond at the back of their premises. This was in conjunction with Keep Wales Tidy, Tidy Towns Campaign. The amount of litter collected was huge with car wheels (all 13 of them), shopping trolleys, chairs, plastics, metals and even a telephone! A great effort by the scouts themselves saw bags of rubbish collected from this stunning spot in only a couple of hours. We could do with their help on some of our clean-up events! Another first for us was finding a shopping trolley that we could not remove, this was due to a bird setting up home on it and having a nest full of eggs (check out the picture below).
Skomer Marine Nature Reserve June 6th
Our first trip of the year to the Skomer MNR saw us battle a drop in temperature and typical welsh drizzle. This event was funded by the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC with support from Action Earth and saw Blaise Bullimore (SAC officer) helping out above and below the waves. Our first dive was @ Low Point which is a very popular fishing mark in the MNR with the second dive @ East Hook Ledges. Even after numerous previous trips we still managed to tally up over 250 lead weights and 500 hooks and lures. These sites differ from the waterway clean-ups which often bring larger flytipped objects however we did recover cans, bottles, aluminum piping, a fishing rod, reels, a knife and a lobster pot.
We also released 6 spider crabs entangled in fishing line (see photo), a dog fish and cleared a pink sea fan which is a Biodiversity Action Plan species from angling litter (see photo). All in all a very successful clean-up day in the Marine Reserve with 14 volunteers including assistance from Llanreath divers and Llantrisant sub aqua club. A big thanks to all and to Andy skippering Volsung!
Milford Marina June 27th
Another dip in new territory saw us battle shocking viz in Milford Haven Marina during the opening day of Pembrokeshire Fish Week. Our previous sortie of the marina was in fairly clear conditions which showed us a number of trolleys, bikes and the like ready for us to pick up however two days of heavy rain prior to the event left us with murky water which made the clean-up quite difficult. We did manage to collect 4 traffic cones, shopping trolleys and baskets, windscreen wiper blades, a mobile phone, tyres, plastic bags, bottles, containers and a number of pint glasses. Just as important this was a great event for raising awareness of Marine Litter and the work NARC does with thousands of people enjoying the festival. Big thanks to all 10 volunteers including Mari Williams of Keep Wales Tidy for organising the skip and the Maritime Volunteer Service for supplying surface cover. We also greatfully accepted a cheque (see picture) from Mari on the day.
Stackpole Quay and Ledges June 28th
Our first visit of the season to Stackpole was certainly a marked contrast in viz from the previous days dip in the marina! 5m+ gave us great conditions and with a full boat of volunteers plus a supporting rib from Carmarthen Bay Divers we went in off Stackpole Quay and the ledges of Stackpole Head. A great effort over the day saw us bring up over 450 hooks and lures, 247 weights, a reel, rod, fishing box, keep net, anchor, cans, plastic and glass bottles and even a pigeon leg ring which was reported to the stray pigeon organisation. We also managed to release 22 spider crabs, 1 lobster and a dog fish from entanglement in fishing line! Unfortunately we were a bit late for 3 spider crabs.
Our surface interval saw us get tasked by the coastguard to assist with 3 swimmers in trouble off Broad Haven South. Thankfully Andy got Volsung on scene in time to help 3 local chaps into the boat who were suffering from exposure and exhaustion. We transferred them onto Tenby lifeboat where 1 of the group was airlifted to hospital and so we added 3 more to our saved organisms column on the recording sheet!
A fantastic day all round with thanks to Andy from Broadside Boat Charters, Daryl for recording, the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC for sponsoring the event, and all the volunteers especially Carmarthen Bay Divers who provided a RIB and a lift!
We were really pleased to hear that Pembroke School supported world oceans day this month and as well as designing marine bags for life, drawing fish and creating sculptures from beach litter the pupils of the art dept in year seven wore blue for the day and raised over £100 towards NARC! A fantastic effort and we were honoured to be chosen as a local group involved in marine conservation. We have assured the pupils that we will be spending their contribution on air fills to cover the upcoming clean-ups in the county. We are looking forward with interest to World Oceans Day 2010 and what other amazing things the Pembroke School Art Dept will come up with. (Photo – Dave Kennard and David Jones from NARC with the pupils of Year 7 Art Dept receiving a cheque)
Skomer Marine Nature Reserve August 8th
The second trip of the year to Skomer MNR saw us all board Volsung once again. Low Point was the location of our clean with the second dive a social dip in the MNR to reward the volunteers for all the hard work this year. Most dips at this popular angling location provide us with examples of negative impacts upon the habitat and the wildlife it supports with lost angling equipment ghost fishing and catching dogfish (see picture below). 8 volunteers managed to collect 193 weights and almost 500 hooks and lures in an hours dive. A great effort by all and thanks to Andy aboard Volsung.
Strumble Head and Fishguard August 15th and 16th
Our first trip to the North of the county found us diving at some popular angling sites near Strumble Head. The force 6 winds and rain made a lot of the county pretty rough but we managed to ride out the swells and hug the coastline to our first site, Pen Anglas which turned out to be quite clean although we did manage to collect weights, hooks, line, bits of plastic and an old fishing rod. The second dip was closer to Strumble where the amount of lost angling litter increased as did the wave size where Wondering Star and all the crew did an excellent job of getting us in and out with zero fuss. As we were cleaning we came across a huge aggregation of starfish (amazing picture below)!
Sunday’s dives saw us in the murky waters surrounding Fishguard breakwater with bad viz making things difficult. This spot often throws up a wide range of litter and we removed a screw driver, 5 spark plugs, a mug, various plastics and a bike wheel. Over the two days diving with 10 volunteers we bagged almost 100 weights, 200 hooks/lures, heaps of line and managed to release 2 entangled spider crabs! The other dive on the day was a social dip to Penbrush and the wreck of the Calburga. Thirty nine meters to the seabed, 9 metre viz and an abundance of sea life made this one of the best dives of the year so far and was thoroughly enjoyed by all!
Hobbs Point Sept 12th
A stunning sunny morning found us down at Hobbs Point for the second time of the year. Once again the viz wasn’t fantastic but then if often isn’t at this site on the Haven. 6 divers and 3 shore based volunteers were on hand to once again try and limit the amount of foreign objects found on the seabed within the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC. The bad viz saw us actually land on a bike to begin the dive and the fly-tipped items just kept on coming. We found another bike, various plastic and rubber items, kitchen tiles, tin cans, bottles, rope,glass jars, batteries, Cd’s, a skateboard, scooter, a reel, rod, fishing line and a dagger that had come straight out of a pirate movie.
A big thanks to all the volunteers, Alastair from Rudders Boat Yard for supplying a support boat and it was great to welcome back our trustee recorder albeit in her wheelchair.
Stackpole Quay Sept 13th
Once again the sun was shinning for another trip to Stackpole Quay. We had a record turnout on the diver front with 18 of us ready to hit the sea and get to work on removing some of the lost angling litter that would have built up over the summer months. After the sheer number of divers making the organisation a little tricky and seeing Dave Kennard sweating about buddy pairs and boat launches Neptune had other ideas! Carmarthen Bay Dive club had once again kindly supplyed 2 RIBS to ferry us out and in. unfortunately both boats had engine troubles and we had to rethink the whole day.
Not being put off by missing boats some of the volunteers managed to shore dive from the quay and still collected over 200 fishing weights! (more to follow)
Stackpole Quay Sept 27th
Our third and final visit of the year found the weather gods once again in good spirits with flat seas and great viz. Even the RIBS behaved and we managed to launch two boats and 12 divers! The quay was buzzing with activity as the third film to hit Pembrokeshire (Barafundle Bay) this year was being filmed at the boathouse. Under the waves things were a bit calmer but once again the weight count was approaching 200 with almost 500 hooks and lures. The second dive was a social dip as a thanks to all the volunteers and in particular Carmarthen Bay for supplying the boats and of course divers.
It looks like this was the last clean-up event of 09 which has seen us carrying out more clean-up dives than ever before! A great achievement for what is our fifth year. All that is left to say now is a BIG THANKS to everyone involved in NARC for 2009, old timers and new comers alike. It has been a fantastic years with lots of litter collected, helping to raise awareness of Marine Litter and the impacts it sometimes has. Even though we are hanging up our masks, fins and litter trays (prototype XXII) for the time being we intend to keep busy as the days get shorter. We have a new general leaflet almost finished while we are looking to develop a site specific leaflet for Stackpole that will hopefully advise visiting anglers on the correct tackle to use at this popular venue. We are also looking at securing funding to resurrect the angling bin scheme and perhaps start cleaning up outside the county. THANKS AGAIN to everyone involved in NARC!
Llandudno 4th Dec
On Dec 4th 2009 NARC were invited to the Welsh Council For Voluntary Action annual awards dinner in Llandudno after being nominated by Claire Palmer Community Section of the Milford Haven Port Authority. This is the most prestigious awards event in the voluntary sector and NARC were winners in their category and deemed “The most admired voluntary organisation in Wales”. An absolutely fantastic way to end 2009 and a perfect fitting for the groups 5th year. A huge thank you to Claire Palmer and the MHPA for the nomination and support in 2009.