WET wipes, cotton buds and fish-shaped soy sauce dispensers are contributing to the rubbish on our beaches which is twice the amount of the national average.

The latest Marine Conservation Society report into beach litter has revealed East Sussex volunteers cleared away twice the amount of detritus from their beaches than the South East and national average.

The report published this week revealed that 250 volunteers clearing up ten East Sussex beaches found on average almost 4900 items of litter per square kilometre.

It was a slightly more cheering picture across West Sussex where 196 volunteers picking at seven beaches bagged more than 2800 items at an average of 1073 items per square kilometre.

Campaigners said the problem was “not going away anytime soon”.

The biggest litter hauls collected in September’s big clean-up were by the 23 volunteers at Brighton Marina who collected 2054 items, 30 volunteers collecting 2696 items at Ovingdean and 17 volunteers picking up 1606 bits of litter from Brighton beach.

By comparison, 130 volunteers covering Worthing beach from pier to esplanade gathered 565 items while one dedicated and solitary picker at Aldwick gathered 214 bits of litter all by themselves.

The report said that nearly all items of litter, ranging from wet wipes, fishing lines, food wrappers, balloons and lighters, were on the increase with only cigarette packets and cotton buds down while beaches acted as a “magnet” for flytipping.

Surfers Against Sewage volunteer Alistair Feest said the issue was less to do with litter being left behind by the public but “industry generated” pollution – in particular from the fishing industry.

But residents were also at fault for treating the toilets as bins with the result being that thousands of plastic items entered the water system.

Mr Feest said: “Cotton buds are a big offender, the ends will disappear and they end up looking like lolly sticks and will remain for years all the while releasing harmful chemicals into the water.

“Little bits of plastic look like food to fishes and seabirds which they won’t be able to digest them, it makes them feel full, and they die from starvation because they can’t actually eat.

“The problem is not going away anytime soon.”

Ed Santry, MCS sea champions co-ordinator for the South East, said the UK Government needed to produce National Marine Litter Action Plans for England and Wales, similar to those already produced for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

He added: “The levels of litter can vary from day to day dependent on tides and weather conditions, one day a beach could look pretty clear and the next day it can be completely strewn.”

Surfers Against Sewage will be holding a litter pick from Rottingdean beach meeting near to Molly’s Café at 11am on Sunday March 29.