Tiree has been selected to be part of a pilot project aiming to tackle marine plastic pollution on UK islands by implementing innovative, community-based solutions.

The initiative is part of the ‘Cold Water Islands Project’, led by the national marine conservation and campaigning charity Surfers Against Sewage, which has joined forces with Parley for the Oceans to develop a strategy that ten volunteer-led island communities will work to implement throughout 2019.

The plastic pollution crisis can have a disproportionate negative impact on island ecosystems, wildlife and communities from the tropics to the tundra. This new project, targeting small cold water islands around the UK, will explore plastic pollution pathways and promote community-based solutions under the Parley AIR Strategy (Avoid, Intercept, Redesign) to demonstrate how these microcosms can provide a template for global action towards a plastic-free future.

Tiree joins a selection of islands communities across a broad geographic spread, from the Northern Isles to the Channel Islands, each of which faces unique challenges in respect to addressing plastic pollution pathways. The list of selected islands includes:

  • Orkney, Northern Isles, Scotland
  • Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
  • Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland
  • Tiree, Inner Hebrides, Scotland
  • Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
  • Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli), Wales
  • Hayling Island, England
  • Alderney, Channel Islands
  • Herm, Channel Islands

The selection was based on detailed applications by prospective ‘island community leaders’ – individuals who are instigators of change and ocean activists; passionate individuals who can stimulate positive change and grow a movement within their community.

Catriona Spink, the selected community leader coordinating the project on Tiree said:

“When I first came to Tiree 35 years ago there was no plastic. This plastic tide is a blight to such a beautiful wild rural environment and needs to be urgently addressed, which is why I’ve taken on this project with my community.”

The project aims to demonstrate how these small island microcosms can provide a template for action for transitioning to a plastic-free future on a global-scale. Ben Hewitt, Director of Campaigns and Projects at Surfers Against Sewage says:

“Our island communities are on the front line battling the scourge of plastic pollution and we want to support the groups and individuals working tirelessly to tackle avoidable single-use plastic.”

Cyrill Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans says:

“Islanders know that plastic has to go. It doesn’t belong on beaches and it has no place in a circular economy. Together with SAS, we’ll continue to grow our Parley AIR Strategy and SAS’s Plastic Free Communities to these new islands by empowering and connecting communities and their leaders, whose local actions can shape both a nationwide and global model for change”

The strategy involves a community-based approach, with local businesses, stakeholders and individuals all encouraged to participate in the project’s positive action through steering groups, events and beach cleans.

The programme incorporates the learnings of both SAS’s community initiatives and Parley’s AIR strategy. Each community leader will be supported with a toolkit resource, that will be crafted to guide the island’s strategy and detail the tactics for achieving change.

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