Three weeks after the event, environmental campaigner says the ducks are still clogging the River Irwell
An environment champion has called for Manchester’s annual duck race to be scrapped… after complaining that hundreds of plastic animals from the event are still clogging a river.
The hugely popular family attraction raises thousands of pounds for charity.
But three weeks after the event hundreds of yellow plastic ducks are littering the River Irwell.
In recent years major work has been done to clean up the river, which divides Manchester and Salford.
Now Dr Luke Blazejewski, a wildlife photographer and environmental film maker, who is also the driving force behind Clean Up Salford, has criticised the management of the race.
He said the aftermath was ‘hundreds – if not thousands – of plastic ducks littered across the Irwell – through Manchester and Salford’.
Mr Blazejewski, who lives in Salford, added: “Of course the money raised for Brainwave is a worthwhile cause, but the River Irwell has had to fight hard to come back from the brink of lifelessness.
“Today we have sand martins flying from Africa to spend their summer here, as well as the goldeneyes who come from Iceland to overwinter.
“The optimist in me says that there are so many other kinds of fund raising that don’t have an impact on the natural world, that this race could be replaced with something else.
“But if it is part of Manchester’s culture then a more vigorous capture scheme is needed to collect the ducks.
“There’s a huge danger element to it. The plastic can break up over time and it will go into the food chain, with plastic being eaten by fish, which in turn are eaten by birds.”
Mr Blazejewski is also campaign co-ordinator for Let’s Do It UK – aimed at galvanising hundreds of thousands of volunteers to clean up the country.
This year’s duck race – the sixth – was the biggest so far, with thousands of people converging on Spinningfields to see the launch of the ducks.
Last year’s event raised £20,000 for Brainwave, a charity, which helps children with disabilities.
It enabled 160 children in the north west to achieve greater independence.
A spokeswoman for the charity vowed that organisers would look into the complaint.
She added: “We will investigate. Obviously we don’t want any wildlife to come to harm.”
Libby Witherden, head of marketing and events at Capital Properties said: ‘We have successfully run the Manchester Duck Race for six years with no previous issues.
“On this occasion, unfortunately, a net broke and the fast flowing river conditions enabled some ducks to slip through. We have been on a number of trips to retrieve the ducks that got away and have scheduled in some additional trips to ensure every duck is retrieved.”