Media Contact:Sinead McCoy, Coastal Programmes, An Taisce
Twitter: @CleanCoasts


Clean Coasts Symposium & Ocean Hero Awards

An Taisce’s annual Clean Coasts Symposium & Ocean Hero Awards were held on Wednesday 18th November at The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin. The Clean Coasts symposium was officially opened by Mr. Conall O’Connor, the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government.

The year’s Clean Coasts Symposium focussed on coastal protection in relation to eco–tourism and well-being. The symposium brought together key stakeholders in the areas of marine litter, eco-tourism, policy-making, NGOs, tourism bodies, the science community, mental healthcare professionals, eco-adventure groups and coastal volunteer groups. During the eco-tourism aspect of the symposium attendees listened to talks from tourism bodies, cultural heritage experts and local communities who are actively promoting what their coastline has to offer through environmentally sustainable tourism initiatives. Following this several talks took place during the well-being session, exploring the positive effect volunteering and recreational activities can have on coastal communities’.

Following the symposium, the Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Awards took place. Clean Coasts is about engaging communities in the protection of our beaches, seas and marine life and currently there are 456 Clean Coasts groups participating in the programme. The prestigious Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Awards are about recognising the invaluable work done by these committed volunteers across the country on a daily basis to protect Ireland’s beautiful coastline.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Michael John O Mahony, Director of An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit said, “The Ocean Hero Awards recognise the remarkable work being carried out by Clean Coasts groups and volunteers all along the Irish coast. This is achieved through several award categories which celebrate creative initiatives in coastal conservation and the wide variety of newly established and long-term groups who contribute to the programme.  Over the past number of years Clean Coasts has grown in such a way that the programme is now embedded in the majority of coastal communities in Ireland,  as a result we f1eel it is necessary to acknowledge this dedication and the positive impact these communities have on the coastline.”

Ciara Cashen, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland said: “Through the support of the Clean Coast programme, Coca-Cola is committed to fostering pride in beaches across the country and encouraging active community participation in the preservation of our local environmental.

“These awards are an important celebration of the groups and individuals who protect our marine environment. I commend An Taisce for highlighting the work that is done by these Ocean Heroes and for bringing us all together in appreciation of the wonderful natural resource that is our coastline.”

Speaking at the Ocean Hero Awards Annabel Fitzgerald with Irish Water said “We are delighted to award Mean Scoil Muire, Newtownsmith, Galway City with the Think Before Your Flush Ocean Hero Award for their efforts in raising awareness about the problems wet wipes can cause when they are flushed down the toilet

The Clean Coasts Programme is operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce and is supported by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Coca-Cola, and Fáilte Ireland.


Ocean Hero Awardees

Award Awardee Information about the group/person
1.    School of the Year Award St. Colman’s Community College, Midleton Co.Cork The students of St. Colman’s have been fantastic and key in the removal of over 12 tonnes of marine litter in the East Cork area, particularly near Ballycotton where they have been dealing with the ongoing issue of fly tipping. They have shown a keen interest in protecting their local beaches and promoting environmental issues in their school and throughout the local community. This has been achieved through awareness raising projects and a website they have put together documenting their action.


Proinsias Ó Tuama and students from St Colman’s collected the Ocean Hero School of the Year Award 2015 for St. Colman’s Community College, Midleton Co.Cork.


2.   Event of the Year Sandycove Tidy Towns/South African Embassy As a celebration of Nelson Mandela Day, Sandycove Tidy Towns teamed up with Clean Coasts and the South African Embassy to carry out a cleanup of Sandycove and its environs. Clean Coasts gave a short introduction on coastal biodiversity and marine litter alongside a talk from the ambassador to South African embassy. The clean up was very successful and with assistance from Dun Laoghaire -Rathdowney County Council the collected litter was removed from the clean up sites. This high-profile, collaborative event, has led to a great working partnership between the South African embassy and Sandycove Tidy Towns.


Margaret Brown collected the Ocean Hero Event of the Year Award 2015 for Sandycove Tidy Towns



3.   Newcomer of the Year Award Clean Coasts Ballynamona Clean Coasts Ballynamona is a newly formed group in East Cork and is made up of local community members and students from St. Colman’s Community College. Since the group formed this year they have carried out numerous beach cleans and have tackled an ongoing litter issues caused by illegal dumping. The group have also taken part in numerous Clean Coasts events to date, including a publicity photography shoot for the Big Beach Clean weekend in September. They have also started a website documenting their actions and special points of interest in the area.


Proinsias Ó Tuama collected the Ocean Hero Newcomer of the Year Award 2015 for Ballynamona Clean Coasts


4.   ‘Think Before You Flush’ Ocean Hero Award, supported by Irish water Students from transition year launched an awareness campaign highlighting the issue of flushing wet wipes down the toilet.   The project came about following an interest taken by a former Transition Year class who, during a beach clean two years ago, discovered a large number of wet wipes entangled in seaweed on a local beach.   The students decided to carry out an awareness survey based on the flushing habits of students in the school. They found that 51% of students regularly flushed wet wipes down the toilet and 55% did not know the results of flushing wet wipes. These results led to the development of awareness workshops to be given to students by students. A follow up survey revealed 87% of students who attended the workshop agreed to stop flushing the wipes. The students carried out a further study of the beach which was initially cleaned. They found an average 60 wet wipes washed up per square metre, equivalent to one standard pack of wipes. This resulted in the commencement of a social and local media campaign highlighting the issue. The students also visited a local primary school to inform them about the issue and filmed an awareness video clip for Clean Coasts.
5.   Business of the Year Award Seatrails, Co. Sligo Seatrails is a Sligo based company that offers tours of coastal cultural heritage sites in Co Sligo. Seatrails and its founder Auriel Robinson have been involved with the Clean Coasts programme since May 2013. During that time she has organised several cleans ups on beaches in Co. Sligo including Streedagh, Strandhill and Culleenamore. In addition to incorporating good environmental practices and encouraging tour groups to take part in Clean Coasts activities. Auriel also gave an impressive talk about coastal archaeology at our most recent Clean Coast Roadshow in Sligo.


Auriel Robinson collected the Ocean Hero Business of the Year Award 2015 for Seatrails


6.   Individual of the Year Caroline Coleman -Kilrush Youth Group and Kilrush Tidy Towns Caroline is a member of Kilrush Youth Group and Kilrush Tidy Towns. She works tirelessly around Cappa and Kilrush protecting it from the effects of marine litter. She has engaged in every aspect of the Clean Coasts programme since joining in 2013 and has been fundamental in organising the Clean Coasts Roadshow, as well as taking part in Clean Coasts Week, Big Beach Cleans and promoting the #2minutebeachclean station at Cappa Pier.
7.   Group of the Year Award Mulranny Environmental Group Mulranny Environmental Group carry out a wide range of environmental projects in their locality and raise awareness on natural heritage through multimedia & guided walks. They carry out several beach cleans throughout the year and work hard to protect and conserve the fragile dunes system and machair habitats in the area. The group assisted greatly in the organisation of the Co. Mayo Clean Coasts Roadshow in March, by offering a venue to hold the event, giving an engaging talk on their experience in coastal protection and providing home-made scones with local seaweed for all those in attendance.


Sean Carolan and Carol Loftus Ocean Hero Group of the Year Award 2015 for Mulranny Environmental Group