Volunteers at Rauðasandur, a remote red sand beach in the West Fjords, easily managed to fill a 25 cubic meter (33 cubic yards) container with trash they collected last Saturday, according to The Environment Agency of Iceland.
The clean-up is a cooperative project between the municipality of Vesturbyggð, the Environment Agency of Iceland and the landowners of Rauðasandur, and is in its third year. Volunteers removed all the trash from a four kilometer (2.5 mile) stretch of the 18 kilometer (11 mile)-long coastline of Rauðasandur, picking up at the point where they left off last year. The aim is to finish cleaning the entire coastline over the next few years. Most of the trash collected was associated with the fisheries industry as in previous years.
The project is carried out in connection with the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (known as the ‘OSPAR Convention’), to which Iceland is a party. Rauðasandur is one of the Icelandic beaches monitored annually in connection with the Convention. The OSPAR part of the project involves demarcating a 100 meter (0.06 mile) section of a beach that is cleaned annually, identifying all the trash collected within the area and logging the findings into the OSPAR database. The agreement itself addresses protecting the North-East Atlantic Ocean by means including reducing pollution from land and offshore sources. Every year, a lot of rubbish is carried out to sea and accumulates on the seabed, on the surface of the ocean or washes up onto the shore and it requires extensive cooperation to solve the problem, including prevention efforts.
This year, a record 27 people responded to the Environment Agency’s call for volunteers, including landowners and park rangers from the Environment Agency on their day off. The day was long, but seemed to go fast in the mild weather, and ended with the volunteers spotting seals and some even taking a dip in the ocean.