SCRA Green Flag Awards 2018

We are privileged to row in some of Scotland most beautiful locations, from the remote to the urban, in rumbling seas to placid lochs. Over the years, our clubs have been at the forefront of reducing waste and caring for the coastal environments that we call ‘home’. Many do this simply as a matter of routine. In recognition of those efforts and to inspire others to do the same, the SCRA developed the prestigious, Green Flag Awards. A total of 6 of these were awarded at this year’s AGM, to great applause. The first 2 green flags were awarded retrospectively to 2 trailblazing clubs: Isle of Seil and St Ayles, Anstruther

Isle of Seil have been using their skiff, Selkie, to remove litter from the remote beaches and islands around the Firth of Lorn for several years now. Interestingly, they tell us that the vast majority is commercial debris from fish and mussel farms.  This year’s efforts include removing 100m of fish farm pipe from Eilean Gamnha which proved to be just the right gauge for the cox’s railway boat launching system! Recycling at its best.

Meanwhile, over in Anstruther, St Ayles Coastal Rowing Club led the way in terms of zero waste regattas. Not only did they buy-up their dishes, cutlery etc from charity shops to avoid disposable plastic, when the regatta was finished, they washed it and donated it all back again! That’s clever. St Ayles also championed the ‘bring your own mug’ to regattas, something so easy to do, that it’s become another bit of kit.

Isle of Seil and St Anstruther were joined by a further 4 clubs this year, who became 2018 green flag recipients:

Rowers from Girvan joined forces with their local Rotary club to remove well over the equivalent of 800 bags of litter from 9 separate beaches. Phew!  93% of that lot was deemed to be plastic-based litter. Sadly, they tell us this was up 23% on the year before. Amongst this, they found quite a few spent gun cartridges which they say gave them pause for thought!

Girvan rowers in beachwear

Musselburgh’s Eskmuthe, have been campaigning for better water quality and cleaner beaches for some time now. They have become the ‘eyes of the public, directly reporting any concerns to SEPA. As well as inspiring over 60 community volunteers to mobilise for beach cleans, they have developed a sprint version with their “2 minute beach cleans”. On that note, how many bits of beach litter can your club pick up in 2 minutes? Come on, we know you like a bit of competition.

Over to Arran Coastal Rowing Club next, who dispensed with plastic bottled water, arming themselves instead with 25litre refillable water containers with help yourself taps. They’re a right crafty lot, that – making their medals from hand made soap and hand turning mini-fenders from recycled wood. Who wouldn’t want to win one of those? Arran also tell us that following their regatta, the remains of the draught beer was ‘recycled’ by the committee. I’ll drink to that!

Our final award went to Glasgow Rowing club who joined forces with the Marine Conservation Society UK and Keep Scotland Beautiful for an epic clean up of the slipway and pontoon near the Riverside Museum, in advance of Castle to Crane. A total of 14 volunteers removed 38kg’s of litter including a large duvet (possibly from a water bed?!?).  The most surprising find was collecting nearly 2000 plastic stems from cotton buds along an eight metre stretch of slipway. These have been passed on to an artist, Littoral Art, who will use them to create a sculpture with cotton buds collected from UK beaches.

If you are inspired by these clubs, please organise your own ‘green’ projects and don’t forget to tell us all about them. You too could be the proud owners of a Green Flag Award.

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