Shipshape and Bristol fashion

A man in hi-viz with a net to scoop litter out of Bristol harbour

Shipshape and Bristol fashion

Meet the team keeping the historic harbourside clean and beautiful.

We were keen to see first-hand the litter issues that the staff working in Bristol Harbour deal with on a daily basis. We spent a rainy day in with Miles and James from the Harbour Master’s office on their litter collection boat. We also learnt how what they do is helping to support the return of otters to the Bristol waterways.

Both Miles and James have a wealth of water-based experience. Miles has been working in the harbour for 13 years and James started out as a boat builder in 2002 and has been working with the Harbour Master’s Office for the past two years.

Miles has learnt a lot about the wildlife on the waterways over the years. The litter that finds its way into the water is a constant threat to the moorhens and sea birds that frequent Bristol Harbour and make it their home. That is just one of the reasons the litter boat is vital to help protect the delicate ecosystem.

Otters have been seen living in the harbour when cameras were set up underneath the steps at the end of the floating harbour. Otters have also been found in Frome and having come from the sea, they would have had to pass through Bristol on their journey. It was inevitable that some of them would make our waterways their home.

The litter boat skims the water at least once a day, twice in the summer months and more when events such as the Harbour Festival are on. The guys fill up the entire basket in the middle of the boat daily with our discarded rubbish.

The job’s hard enough in winter but gets much harder as spring and summer come around. With lovely sunny weather, our beautiful harbourside rightly attracts lots of people to spend time there and enjoy Bristol. Unfortunately, this also brings additional incorrectly discarded rubbish.

Takeaway containers, glass bottles and tubes from cigarette filters are among the things that get blown into the water when they are not disposed of carefully. These can get eaten by the wildlife and have resulted in numerous deaths – on the day we went out we saw three dead birds.

Please be aware of where you are putting your waste and try to take recycling home. Not only will you help make the job easier for Miles, James and their colleagues, you will also be protecting wildlife and helping the environment.

The Harbour Master’s office arranges a litter pick each month to help the upkeep of the water – if you’d like to get involved have a look at the Clean Up Bristol Harbour Facebook page and get in touch.

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