Thanet Rotary clubs’ ‘Fin the Fish’ waste recycling installation shelved over emptying row

A fish installation like this one was planned for Margate

Thanet Rotary clubs say their plan to put a Fin the Fish waste recycling installation on the beach at Margate can no longer go ahead because Thanet council refuses to empty the installation and says volunteers would have to transfer the contents to large bins first.

Inspired by Scarborough’s Fin the Fish, the combined Rotary Clubs of Thanet began working on a similar project for Margate almost a year ago,

Southern Water had pledged to kickstart the fundraising campaign for the Rotary in Thanet project with a significant boost towards the total expected budget of £20,000 and volunteers planned to raise the rest

The installation would have been used to collect plastic waste for recycling – reducing plastic on the beach as well as raising awareness and being a fun but functional piece of art.

Thanet Sunrise Rotary volunteers

But, the scheme has come grinding to a halt after Thanet council said operatives could not empty the installation because they would have to reach in and manually remove the contents.

Thanet council said it would provide large bins beside the fish and would empty those bins but insists council employees cannot remove the contents directly from the installation.

Rotary members then came up with an altered design which included a box underneath to collect the contents but the clubs have been told that volunteers would still have to take responsibility for transferring this to the bins.

Beverley Aitken, from Margate Rotary, said: “We did ask if they would do it if we funded the operatives but the answer was no. They said volunteers should do it.

“We had planned to start our campaign in earnest in the Autumn and to have commissioned the fish by now.  We have been unable to do either without the emptying issue being resolved first and foremost.”

Margate Rotary volunteers

Caroline Winzer, from Thanet Sunrise Rotary Club, added: “We had negotiated with Dreamland for storing it during the winter months, they would have had it at indoor events. We have been in touch various private waste contractors about the seafront emptying of the fish who all said they couldn’t assist.

“Even if our volunteers were able to empty it there would have to be a degree of commitment and management. The same scheme works well in other areas and has not been an issue for those local authorities.

“We firmly believe this should be managed by professional operatives, as is the case with other councils.”

Looking after the environment is one of the areas of focus for Rotary clubs internationally and Thanet clubs had hoped this project would promote that as well as providing an artistic installation on the beach by the Sundeck area.

Now they are having to discuss completely changing the project to use brightly coloured wheelie bins instead of the fish sculpture, but Beverley said: “We still do not know if Thanet council will be able to empty them.”

In a statement The Thanet Rotary clubs added: “Having put so much time and effort in to the “Fishing for Plastic” project The Thanet Rotary clubs are saddened that it can’t proceed but remain committed to reducing plastic waste on our beaches and exploring new recycling initiatives that can fulfil this aim.”

A Thanet District Council spokesperson said: “We have been in contact with the Thanet Rotary clubs regarding their proposal for a fish cage to collect plastic materials on Margate Main Sands.

“While the objectives of this project are aligned with the council’s climate change and recycling objectives, there are a number of challenges related to the practicalities of collecting and emptying recyclable materials on the beach.

“We hope that these issues can be addressed and that a mutually acceptable solution can be identified.”


  1. Couldnt the rotary club empty it ? Than TDC collect.

    Can see it would take some time to empty so can see why TDC dont want to spend our money on emptying a private bin

  2. This article is abit misleading as it states

    “can no longer go ahead because Thanet council refuses to empty the installation”

    Thing is it wasnt just TDC who said they wouldnt empty it but the private waste companies as well. So to blame TDC is just not true.

    I would have thought the emptying and maintenance of the fish would have been put in place before purchasing the fish.

    • It says Thanet Rotary clubs say it “can no longer go ahead because Thanet council refuses to empty the installation”
      The article then explains the issues and what has been tried and what Thanet council say in response. ‘Blame’ lies with the inability to resolve the problem.

  3. Good idea Rotary clubs but back to the drawing board, you can understand for once, TDC will only empty wheelie bins each week if you put them outside so you can see where they are coming from, if TDC spent time emptying a giant recycling ♻️ fish then something else will have to go .

  4. Signs are already put up in summer asking people to take their rubbish home but it seems society today are lazy and would just throw it on the ground or sands. it would be shocking to leave the rubbish on the beach for those coming the next day to see what was left the previous day by the mindless but I wish that could happen sometimes.
    Now TDC being unable to empty a recycling cage on the beach when all other councils who have them can is a cop out. A big cage door on the front or side and a chute down into the bins with the fish raising the other end would be easy to construct and not take very long to empty. The kids will love it and want to recycle.
    It seems TDC are content on filth and will not accept anyone having a say in helping sort things out. They have no imagination either. The face of Contempt !

    • This very afternoon I watched a man finish his can of drink and drop it by the bandstand in Ramsgate. I was about to ask him if he could put it in the bin and told me f off! He is a local!!!

  5. TDC might just wonder how come other similar initiatives around the country have managed to operate seamlessly enough – one despairs but the glimmer at the end of the tunnel may be growing larger with the advent of the ‘governance’ report which may just recommend more community involvement generally (as appears to be a central government aspiration if not yet percolated to the backwoods ??? Dum spiro spero : whilst I breathe I hope as the old King said on 28 Jan 1639.

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