‘Sustainable surfer’ to clean Scotland’s beaches

IT IS part adventure trip, part environmental crusade. A lone surfer plans to spend the summer cleaning Scotland’s northernmost beaches before hitting the waves in a bid to raise awareness of some of the country’s most scenic yet polluted shores.

Michal Czernik will spend eight weeks this summer collecting rubbish, arranging beach-cleaning parties and collating data. Picture: Facebook

Michal Czernik has set aside eight weeks to travel around coastal and island communities, restoring some of the nation’s most breathtaking beaches to their natural splendour.

From the coves of Aberdeenshire to the white sands of the Western Isles, he will criss-cross the northern coast while making a documentary on the region’s fragile ecosystem, interviewing surfers and members of communities affected by the scourge of pollution.

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Describing himself as a “sustainable surfer,” Mr Czernik intends to collate data on more than 30 beaches and share it with marine conservation charities to aid research.

He then hopes to break out his trusty board and take to the waves for some surf time.

Mr Czernik, a Czech, fell in love with Scotland’s beaches after moving to Edinburgh nine years ago. Now he plans to give up his job as a software developer and embark on his Surf Help mission at the start of June, travelling the country in Bethy, his camper van.

He said: “There’s just so much litter it almost feels like there aren’t enough people who care about this beautiful landscape. I want to prove that there are.

“Some of the bigger beaches, the more popular ones, have regular volunteering programmes to help keep them clean. But some of the more remote are abandoned and dirty. I want to give them the tender loving care they deserve.”

His itinerary will begin on the mainland, visiting the likes of Lunan Bay, Cruden Bay, Fraserburgh and Banff, before taking in Inverness, Dornoch, Wick and Dunnet Bay.

He is setting aside two days, including a “few hours of surfing time” for each beach.

The 32-year-old, a veteran of larger beach clean-ups, will then venture north to Thurso before setting sail for Orkney, later returning south to Melvich, Strathy, Armadale, Farr Bay and Torrisdale Bay.

He hopes to visit Ullapool before heading to the Western Isles in late July, then Skye and Mull.

He intends to arrange some beach cleaning parties with volunteers from organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage, but if needs be, he plans to store the rubbish he collects in his van for recycling.

“My camper has a few compartments, so as well as my surfboard and wetsuit, I want to have containers for different types of litter,” he said.

If previous initiatives are any­thing to go by, he will have his work cut out. Volunteers picked up about 1,963 pieces of litter per kilometre on Scottish beaches during the last Marine Conservation Society survey.

Keep Scotland Beautiful estimates 20,000 tonnes of litter are dumped in the North Sea each day, and 15 per cent is washed up on Scotland’s coastline.