Volunteers who have cleared more than a tonne of plastic from Cornwall's sea and coastline in less than 12 months have been recognised with this year's John Mackay environmental award.

Members of Clean Ocean Sailing, based in Gweek, have become the 16th recipients of the award that is presented each year by Lizard Peninsula Friends of the Earth.

They were presented with a perpetual trophy carved from Cornish oak and a small chas prize to spend in a local business.

Although only beginning their work in August last year, the 30 volunteers of Clean Ocean Sailing have already made a big difference, using dinghies, canoes and kayaks to clear plastic litter from coves and beaches inaccessible by land.

In the last two months alone they have removed 556 kilos of plastic washed ashore. Their long term plan is to use The Annette, a 110-year-old 60 foot gaff rigged schooner that is currently being restored, to clear plastic from the wider ocean - hopefully from September this year, starting on World Clean Up Day.

Presenting the award, Diana Wilson of Lizard Peninsula Friends of the Earth, said: "We were particularly pleased to receive the nomination for Clean Ocean Sailing as we have been campaigning for about ten years via our stall at Helston Farmers' Market about the need to reduce single-use plastic, specifically the bags handed out by supermarkets.

"The campaign is at last really gathering momentum nationally and internationally, and we are realising the enormous implications for the marine environment of our profligate use of plastic.

"Beach cleaning has become a frequent activity, but is only possible if you can get onto the beach. And it’s great to see that initiatives like Clean Ocean Sailing are able to collect plastic from otherwise inaccessible places, and eventually fish the plastic from the sea itself."

Steve Green, co-founder of Clean Ocean Sailing, said: "Cornwall has a great community spirit when it comes to beach clean-ups. But there are lots of beaches and tiny coves which are full of deadly plastic, even though they’ve had no human visitors for decades or more."

The group is looking for patrons to help fund the restoration work on The Annette, by paying a small subscription.