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Antrim Based 'Sea2it' Invests £18k Tackling Invasive Species & Litter in the Bann Estuary

17th November 2020
Shore litter Shore litter Photo: Sea2it

Sea2it is a Local Community Interest Company and brings together community groups and individuals as volunteers to tackle marine and freshwater litter, and the organisation has just announced that it has had some exciting news.

Sea2it is investing £18k tackling invasive species and litter in the Bann Estuary. The River Bann enters the sea on the North Coast of Ireland near Castlerock, roughly midway between Lough Foyle to the west and Ramore Head to the east. The Bann Estuary is an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI ). It incorporates a series of dune systems which together with the lowest section of the River Bann, are part of the same physiological unit that has evolved over the last 6,000 years. The Estuary site is used by significant numbers of passage and wintering waders and wildfowl and is also important for breeding species including shelduck, redshank, snipe and lapwing.

The Lower Bann Photo: eoceanicThe Lower Bann Photo: eoceanic

Sea2it has been awarded £14,000 from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to tackle the problem. The grant has been awarded through the Department's "Environment Fund Water Quality Improvement Strand" and will be matched with volunteer time and financial contributions from Sea2it's fundraising events, to deliver a total investment of £18,000.

The grant means Sea2it can recruit up to 12 local volunteers to participate in training and gain a Level 2 qualification in the identification and treatment of invasive and injurious species near water. Qualified volunteers will commit to assisting tackling invasive species Estuary over a number of years. Sea2it will establish a bank of well-maintained equipment which qualified volunteers can use to help identify and treat invasive species.

Invasive species are a significant problem in both the UK and Ireland, with MP and Chair of the Environment and Audit Committee Mary Creagh suggesting the UK could need up to 1 million volunteers to help tackle the problem. A 2019 report prepared for the Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands Landscape Partnership Scheme indicates that there are a number of species of concern in the Bann Estuary, including Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed, Montbretia, Japanese Rose and Gunnera. These species outcompete native plants and have a negative impact on local habitats and species.

In addition to accredited invasive species training, the award from DAERA enables Sea2it to involve up to 72 volunteers in six adventure-based litter expeditions to help with the clean-up. Local community and volunteer groups are encouraged to get involved with participants working from low deck boats or a small rib to reach more inaccessible areas of the river and remove litter materials. The composition of all litter collected as part of the scheme will be recorded and shared with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful who maintain litter surveys for all Northern Ireland, where possible materials will be sorted for mixed recycling.


Commenting on the award Sea2it's Andrew Bratton said "This award from DAERA's Water Quality Improvement Strand funding provides a fantastic opportunity for the local community to get involved in healthy and fun expedition-style litter picks. It also provides 12 dedicated volunteers with an opportunity to gain an accredited Level 2 qualification in the identification and treatment of invasive and injurious species. Sea2it is delighted to support and match fund the proposed activities and looks forward to delivering this project in partnership with DAERA".

Mert Thompson from NIEA's Catchment team within DAERA added "DAERA is delighted to fund and look forward to working on this exciting project being delivered by Sea2it. This project is delivering on two of our key priorities - the improvement of habitats, and the quality of our coastal waters. Sea2it are able to deliver on these priorities in a fun and healthy way that will undoubtedly increase participants understanding and appreciation of the natural environment."

Sea2it is based in Antrim town and you can follow Sea2it at or phone Andrew Bratton on 07716621251 [email protected]

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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