PENARTH volunteer group Challenge Wales has undertaken its first microplastics survey as part of a collaborative project.

The Big Microplastic survey is a project undertaken by Just One Ocean, the University of Portsmouth and the Challenge Wales charity.

Although volunteers took part for the first survey, it will be young people aged between 12 and 25 years who will be driving it forward and taking part in future surveys.

Kerry Rees, youth development officer for Challenge Wales said: “Our sail training voyages not only develop essential life-skills of young people and give them accreditation to recognise their achievements, but are making them more aware of one-use plastics and their impact on the marine world.

“The microplastics survey will add to the environmental element of our sail training activities as well as providing important data which feeds into the wider picture. It’s great that we can be part of a global scientific study and play our part.”

Vicky Williams, Challenge Wales Trustee said following the survey held on Barry Island beach: “It was great fun taking part in the survey and although some of our sampling showed no microplastics, in others we saw nurdles, cotton bud sticks and polystyrene. It’s a really engaging and thought-provoking activity for anyone to get involved with which is why we can’t wait for our young trainees onboard to get involved.

“We often see large pieces of plastic debris when we are sailing but less seems to be known about the issues of microplastics which are getting into the food chain.”

The microplastic survey is the latest addition to the Challenge Wales programme. The charity is already part of a science project measuring plankton.

With sail training voyages ranging from 1 to 14 days, and different coastal regions visited, there will be lots of opportunities for young people and Challenge Wales to contribute significantly to the Big Microplastic Survey.