DEAD SEAL LAY FOR 14 DAYS

THE  removal of carcasses from beaches is being viewed as a priority by councillors after it was disclosed a dead seal had been lying on Ratallagh beach outside Portavogie for 14 days

When the matter was discussed by Ards and North Down Council’s Environment committee, the negative impact dead animals were having on the beaches when carcasses were not picked up in a timely manner was highlighted.

The committee tasked council officers to investigate how carcasses could be prioritised for removal as soon as possible after reporting to ensure the beaches of Ards and North Down continued to be a clean, safe and well managed coastal environment to be enjoyed by everyone.

Raising the issue, aldermanRobert Adair highlighted the sharp increase of dead seals being washed up on local beaches.

“Previously these had been removed in a timely manner but that has not been the case recently,” he said. In several instances, Mr Adair continued, carcasses had lain for over a week and had deteriorated badly. “This had a negative environmental impact and was very unsettling for children visiting the beach,” he said. “The foul smell of the carcasses also attracted flies and they were dangerous for dogs – many people started to avoid the beaches”.

According to Mr Adair, 90% of  the complaints he received about the matter, related to beaches under council control. In one of the incidents he reported it took 14 days for the carcass to be lifted.

“To lie 14 days and become a health and safety hazard is totally unacceptable,” Mr Adair underlined. “We need to ensure our beaches can be a safe well managed coastal environment to be enjoyed by everyone”.

Councillor Janice MacArthur related how a dead seal had been washed up at Ballymacormick Point near Groomsport on a beach which was owned by the National Trust. “The statutory agency with responsibility for it was a little bit unclear,” she highlighted. “DAERA [Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs] advised to report the matter to council which a member of the public did, but on contacting council they were advised that it wasn’t on council land –  it was owned by the National Trust and they had responsibility for its removal.”

Perhaps, Mrs MacArthur said, when council officers reported back to the committee this matter could be explored. “I noted we don’t have any advice on our website for the public on what to do. – on Belfast City Council’s website they have a button which allows the public to request removal of a dead animal,” she related. “Anything we can do to make the process explicable and more readily managed is to be welcomed.”

Councillor David Rossiter referred to incidents of whales being washed up on Ballymacormick beach.