Yellow fishes:

Have you ever seen a yellow fish painted next to a drain cover? If so it’s likely a part of the yellow fish campaign. The yellow fish campaign is run in Britain, and involves stencilling a yellow fish symbol next to drains to remind people that any waste entering them may go directly to the nearest open water – causing pollution and killing wildlife.

But we don’t put our rubbish down drains, do we? Well, we do. Litter is easily carried in water or by the wind, any dropped litter can so easily end up down a drain, and where it goes from there so unknown to us. It may go to a treatment plant, or into our waters. When in the water we really have no control over what happens next, oil is one of the biggest issues when in drain water, it doesn’t mix with water, and could potentially cause the suffocation of an entire lake. One litre of oil can pollute one million litres of drinking water⁴, a lot right? So remember only water down the drain. Oil can be recycled at local recycling centres, where it’s possibly used to make biofuel.

It’s believed that 10 % of all plastic debris ends up in the oceans¹, we might try to avoid directly placing debris in our water but, there are lots of drains that lead to water. That’s where the yellow fish campaign comes it, it raises awareness of drains which will go straight into the water works untreated. Some places the yellow fish will also tell you where they enter: beach, river, stream, lake, estuary etc. Marine litter is easily carried to the sea by the rivers².

So what kind of litter is found in these drains, in a survey it was found that 32% were tobacco products, 20% were plastic, 16% confectionary products, 16% paper, 9% glass, 4% metal, and 3% unclassified³. But Tobacco products aren’t that bad are they? 4.5 trillion cigarette butts enter the environment every year. Sadly, they will become more toxic as the filter will collect different chemicals found in the water, before some unsuspecting animal or child eats them by mistake.

But the yellow fish campaign is here to change that. It’s raising awareness of what we are doing to our waters, and it’s so simple to get involved!

As the campaign is run completely by volunteers you can do the project whenever you like. All you need to do is stencil a yellow fish next to surface water drains. To do this you do require the permission of the owner of the drain, on public land this will be your local highways department. You could also create leaflets to spread the word to your wider community.

Businesses can get involved too! Why not have your shop or development, more environmentally friendly and educate people too. Improve your environment to improve your profit, sounds good to me for just adding a simple yellow fish.

9633-26130-file-eng-yellow-fish-400-2121

For more information about how to get involved in England click here.

 

Lauren x

 

References:

  1. Thompson RC, Olsen Y, Mitchell RP, Davis A, Rowland SJ, John AW, McGonigle D, Russell AE (2004). Lost at sea: where is all the plastic? Science, 304, 838.
  2. Sadri, SS, & Thompson, RC (2014) On the quantity and composition of floating plastic debris entering and leaving the Tamar Estuary, Southwest England. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 81, 55–60.
  3. KAB, (2009) National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost Study. Keep America Beautiful, Inc. <www.kab.org/site/DocServer/Final_KAB_Report_9-18-09.pdf> accessed: 20/02/16
  4. Ashworth M, (2012) Yellow fish guidance manual [manual obtained in Exeter branch] 19/02/16
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What can YOU do?

With a blog filled to the brim with information on marine pollution and individual solutions, how can we make a real, active change? It’s all well and good to do our bit little by little, and it’s a real positive start, but why don’t we inspire and motivate eachother to do more? It could be a few hours actively working at the weekend or sharing information amongst friends. Whatever it is, we can and we should help.

So, where can we start?

  1. A beach clean up!

It’s no doubt that everyone loves a good trip to the beach, so why not make it into a trip of being constructive? A popular destination amongst millions of people, beaches can become dump sites. Think about people leaving picnics behind, plastic packaging,  bags, cigarette ends – the list is endless! Beach clean ups are actually quite a popular idea – all you do is gather a bunch of people to visit your local beach and pick up all the litter. The more the merrier  – afterall, the more people that go, the quicker the job is done! This is a really small yet positive step in the right direction of clearing our seas of litter. Why not check out this  guide?

2. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.

It’s been found that over 80% of marine pollution originates from land, therefore making humans directly responsible. The more rubbish we put into our bins instead of our recycling means that we’re putting more rubbish into our oceans. We personally can easily change this by simply recycling. For example, reusing plastic bags, composting food scraps and recycling glass, plastic, paper, and cans.The more we recycle means the more rubbish that is out of our bins and out of our oceans. Read here for more information.

3. Protect Our Drains.

By protecting our stormwater drains we can make a huge difference in preventing marine pollution. This is because stormwater drains collect and remove rainwater from our streets, so when rubbish is washed into our drains, it flows straight into our rivers and streams, thus flowing into the ocean! We can easily prevent this by not littering in our roads, because everything we throw onto the road will most likely end up in our seas. For example, cigarette butts, oil from cars, pieces of plastics and other bits of rubbish are the most common pieces of litter transported through stormwater drains, and these endlessly pollute our seas. If we refrain from littering and maintain our vehicles in the correct way, then we can easily prevent this from happening!

4. Support Ocean Charities

Quite easily the simplest one of them all, you can easily support a marine charity from the comfort of your own home! There are plenty out there trying to keep our seas clean such as Marine Conservation Society, Sea Life Trust, Oceana, SeaBin, Ocean Conservancy and so many more! Supporting one of these organisations can help towards making our oceans a safer, cleaner and healthier place.

Seren.

Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, 6 years on:

The largest accidental marine oil spill in history. Well, that could mean anything right? It doesn’t have to mean it was huge. But it was. On April  20th 2010 an estimated 780,000 m³ of crude oil was released into the Gulf of Mexico. An explosion caused a well leak in the drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon. The accident took place only 66kms off the American coast. So what are the affects still taking place nearly six years on?

We all remember the photos and videos of the oil being removed or washing up on the shore, but that doesn’t mean the oil is gone. There are significant hydrocarbon deposits on the seafloor in the Desoto Canyon region, over to the east of where the well leaked¹. Only around 25% of the oil was actually removed, the rest is still out there somewhere. Some of that oil can become trapped during the formation of marine snow, causing mass deposits of oil at depth, where they can have a catastrophic effect on benthic (bottom feeding) species.

marine snow

Image credit:http://phys.org/news/2013-07-marine-scientists-explore-biodiversity-ecosystems.html

Even though the gushing well was capped in July 2010, oil is still washing up on shores, which might cause long-term damages to people living in the area.

Marine oil-Snow Sedimentation and Flocculent Accumulation (MOSSFA) due to the oil spill is still impacting marine ecosystems². It’s believed that around 70-90% of marine snow particles that sink from the surface water are then ingested by mesopelagic (depth of 200 to 1000 metres) zooplankton or used by bacteria¹. These are then eaten by other marine species before the oil then reaches the top of the food chain.

16,000 total miles of coastline have been affected, including the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

A study was done in Barataria Bay in 2011, which is in a heavily-oiled area of the Louisiana coastline. Of all the dolphins tests nearly half of them were extremely ill; 17% not expected to survive³. Not only that but since the spill, every year, around 500 sea turtles have been found stranded, sadly, most of them were the much endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles³. When the disaster happened it was the peak breeding season for lots of species of fish and wildlife. The toxins in the oil could have hit eggs and the larval organisms straight away, destroying those age classes, or causing mutations.  But it’s only the fish right? They can just breed? No, fish were continued to be fished from the water and many Louisiana fisherman became ill after the spill, and most blame it on the oil in the waters, not only did they become sick they predict that it will take seven years before they can start shrimping again⁴.

For more information about the oil spill and the affects that were seen last year, check out this video:

http://www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=2664262246

Do we really need to keep risking our oceans for a fuel that we are quickly running out of when there are so many alternatives? The extent of the 2010 disaster is still widely unknown, as six years isn’t a long enough time in the science community for research to produce a conclusive answer. I personally think we need to push for a change to more renewable energy sources. Not just for our health but for the planet.

Lauren x

References:

  1. Daly KL, Passow U, Chanton J, Hollander D (2016) Assessing the impacts of oil-associated marine snow formation and sedimentation during and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Anthropocene, ISSN 2213-3054, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ancene.2016.01.006.
  2. Schwing PT, Romero IC, Brooks GR, Hastings DW, Larson RA, Hollander DJ (2015) A Decline in Benthic Foraminifera following the Deepwater Horizon Event in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0128505. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120565
  3. National Wildlife Federation (2015) How Does the BP Oil Spill Impact Wildlife and Habitat? nwf.org/What-We-Do/Protect-Habitat/Gulf-Restoration/Oil-Spill/Effects-on-Wildlife.aspx 18/02/16
  4. Buczynski B (2010) Gulf Oil Spill: 10 Horrifying Facts You Never Wanted To Know. care2.com/causes/10-most-horrifying-facts-about-the-gulf-oill-spill.html 19/02/16
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Marine Pollution – Is It All Just Plastic?

When we think of polluted seas, more often than not we focus on plastic littering; images of plastic bottles and can holders floating on the ocean’s surface. But there’s so much more to it than that. Sewage disposal and toxic chemicals are also huge problems when it comes to marine pollution, and it’s an issue we really must direct more attention to.

When it comes to sewage disposal, many parts of the world leave sewage flows untreated or under treated, allowing this to enter the ocean. For example, 80% of urban sewage discharged into the Mediterranean Sea is untreated. This can cause a whole world of problems, for example human disease and eutrophication. You can read more about eutrophication here; my colleague Kathini wrote all about it in a previous blog post.

When toxic substances enter a body of water, they either dissolve, become suspended in water or get deposited on the bed of the water body. The resulting water pollution causes the quality of the water to deteriorate and affects aquatic ecosystems. This polluted water can then get discharged into rivers, meaning that pollutants enter groundwater, rivers, and other water bodies. This highly contaminated water that has potential to carry disease causing microbes then ultimately ends up in our households, which is obviously a huge problem.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom! There are things you can do to help. For example, in many countries there’s an ongoing campaign to ‘bag it and bin it, don’t flush it!’ in aim to protect rivers and seas by decreasing the number of disposable items flushed down items, such as cotton bud sticks, sanitary towels and napkins which can travel through the sewers and end up back on our beaches. Basically, avoid flushing anything down the toilet that is made of plastic or non biodegradable material!

On the other hand, toxic chemicals are a different story. Almost every marine organism, from the tiniest plankton to whales and polar bears, is contaminated with man made chemicals such as pesticides and chemicals used in common consumer products. These chemicals have either been dumped into the ocean previous to the dumping ban made by the London Dumping Convention in 1972, or they make their way into the sea during their manufacture, use or disposal. The chemicals can escape into the water, soil and air during these processes, as well as in accidental leaks or fires in products containing these chemicals.

“Tiny animals at the bottom of the food chain, such as plankton in the oceans, absorb the chemicals as they feed. Because they do not break down easily, the chemicals accumulate in these organisms, becoming much more concentrated in their bodies than in the surrounding water or soil. These organisms are eaten by small animals, and the concentration rises again. These animals are in turn eaten by larger animals, which can travel large distances with their even further increased chemical load.”

However, like all preventable causes, there’s a way we can all prevent this from continuing. For example, one website suggests using natural air fresheners such as fresh flowers rather than chemical sprays; using compost and preventing the use of herbicides and fungicides. Other websites recommend using recycled products, giving away paints to people who will use them, using chemical based products before they go bad, limiting the use of cars and motor vehicles. 

There’s plenty we can do, if only we keep positive and keep looking for solutions, no matter how small scale they are!

Seren

 

What’s being done on a large scale?

The easiest way to stop plastic waste polluting our oceans is to prevent it ever reaching the water in the first place. As individuals it’s important that we take some personal responsibility, whether that be recycling or picking up litter at your local beach. You can check out some great tips on what you can do here https://sailingtunas.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/reduce-reuse-revive-our-oceans/

However, major producers of plastic packaging still need to do more. Producers need to create packaging that is 100% recyclable and help fund the costs of cleaning up their products that are already in our oceans but also keeping them out of the oceans too!

The other day I stumbled across a website and environmental group called “Natural Resources Defence Council” or NRDC for short. Their mission statement is to “work to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.” They have over 2 million members and are one of the largest environmental groups in the USA. I was pleased to read that they are working closely with several US states and the Obama administration.

The NRDC are currently working on 3 important strategies to help prevent plastic pollution. In the US many states hold plastic producers accountable for recovering and recycling their products, however the NRDC believes building a coalition, consisting of waste management, businesses and environmental groups will help create measures to stop plastic at the very source. By making incentives for plastic producers to use less plastic and more environmentally friendly packaging also ensuring that the recycling actually takes place. Recycling also creates job opportunities, so it’s a win win situation for the community and the environment.

NRDC are collaborating with ocean and waste experts, who are in turn working directly with several major international agencies such as the UN environmental program. They are hoping to create international guidelines for preventing plastic pollution and bringing more international leaders and government organisations together to help tackle ocean pollution together.

Reducing plastic pollution is at the top of the NRDC agenda; they help control the amount of litter in the world oceans by pushing for legal legislation and working closely with other charities. Creating partners with other charities creates a more unified voice for the issues at hand.

The NRDC are one of many organisations looking to put pressure on companies at the international stage. You can read more about the NRDC here and how they are helping to reduce plastic in the ocean and many other environmental challenges they are trying to tackle, here.

Tom 🙂

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Spills spoil seas:

400+ million gallons spill into oceans every year…

Everyone has seen the devastating pictures of sea birds drowned in oil, the black ocean waters and the thick, sludge covered beaches.

The effects on marine organisms can be devastating; as the oil floats on top of the water sea birds and marine mammals, such as otters, are most effected. The oil covers the birds bodies, coating the feathers thus preventing flight and destroying their natural waterproofing – this means the birds are left with no form of insulation or ability to escape from the waters, so are vulnerable to hypothermia. The same goes for otters and seals, their isulation is affected by the oil and they cannot keep themsleves warm. Dolphins and whales are badly effected when they come to the surface and oil gets into their blowholes, this can block their resporitory systems and make it hard to breathe.

As well as affecting animals at the surface, some of the oil can sink down into the ocean and contaminate the water which has a toxic effect on fish and fish larvae as they swallow the oil droplets in the water. This can in the long run cause mutations, physiological problems and increased mortality.

In the sediment and on beaches the oil can get into shell fish, for example mussels and it has been shown that the hydrocarbons are passed up the food chain from shellfish to amphipods (small shrimp-like creatures) to fish and then eventually to us!

The destruction of oil spills isn’t just short term (before the oil is cleaned up); even years afterwards, the marine environment is still being effected. For example the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, though the oceans appear clean and healthy again, the oil is still in the sea – sunk down into the deepwater and sediment and we do not yet know what impact this could have on marine life.

Check out this video about the oil spill 5 years on:

http://edition.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/us/2015/04/10/bp-gulf-oil-spill-five-year-anniversary-orig.cnn

 

So the question is – what can we do to help prevent oil causing harm to the oceans?

When you think of oil spilling into the oceans, you generally just think of the large catastrophic spills that happen due to anomalies, however lots of oil gets into the ocean due to the use of automobiles and industrial waste from production. The oil drippings from machines on land accumulate and run into the water systems and then into the oceans.  And whilst it is hard to prevent oil spills from occurring, there are things we can do to help reduce the chance of more spills:

  • Reduce your fossil fuel consumption – use less electricity and reduce car usage
  • Install your own renewable energy source – wind turbines and solar panels can be installed so that you can generate your homes own green energy
  • Support green energy instead of fossil fuels – there are many organisations that are fighting for the government to reduce oil stations and increase renewables. Try joining one of these and volunteer or donate small contributions or sign petitions for the government to help try and make a change. Here are a few useful sites for this
  • Renewable Energy Association http://www.r-e-a.net/
  • RenewableUK http://www.renewableuk.com/
  • Contribute to organisations that help to clean up oil spills – you can donate money to these organisations to help speed up the clean up of the oil after spills and help save the marine life.

So lets help make a change to prevent more damage to our oceans and the precious marine life!

Beth x

 

References:

CNN, (2016). Revisit the BP oil spill, 5 years later – CNN Video. [online] Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/04/10/bp-gulf-oil-spill-five-year-anniversary-orig.cnn/video/playlists/disastrous-oil-spills/ [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].

Kingston, P. (2002). Long-term Environmental Impact of Oil Spills. Spill Science & Technology Bulletin, 7(1-2), pp.53-61.

Neaq.org, (2016). Oil Spill – Effects on Wildlife and Habitats. [online] Available at: http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/oil_spill/effects_on_wildlife_and_habitats.php [Accessed 13 Feb. 2016].

Response.restoration.noaa.gov, (2016). How Oil Harms Animals and Plants in Marine Environments | response.restoration.noaa.gov. [online] Available at: http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/oil-and-chemical-spills/oil-spills/how-oil-harms-animals-and-plants-marine-environments.html [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].

West, L. (2016). 5 Ways Oil Spills Hurt the Environment. [online] About.com News & Issues. Available at: http://environment.about.com/od/petroleum/a/oil_spills_and_environment.htm [Accessed 13 Feb. 2016].

 

 

 

 

 

Educate, advocate:

One of our main aims on this blog is to educate, and honestly, that is the best thing you can do to help. If you are educated you can choose to make a well informed decision, whether it be the activities you take part in or the products you buy.

My goal in this post isn’t to educate you, it’s to help you find ways to educate yourself.

A great website for information about different types of marine pollution, it contains a collection of multimedia so it really should cater to all tastes. The website is aimed at students but really is suitable for anyone who wants to learn.

Project Aware is a diving group working towards making the ocean cleaner, and also some other issues. As I am diver I find Project Aware a great resource as it educates me on the issues, and give me ideas and projects I can partake in as a diver. It also helps you set up your own event. It allows you to be directly involved in cleaning up our oceans, while they work with the big fish (corporations, governments etc) to develop legislation to stop debris from entering the oceans in the future.

 

 

Some fantastic TED talks! I love a TED talk, they can really educate you within ten to twenty minutes and are easy for you to listen to. Marinebio is a non-profit charity organisation, it is run by students, scientists, and everyday people who volunteer. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not as educating and fulfilling as any other site.

There are lots of research papers, websites and books which can teach you everything you want to know. All of the information is out there when you look. I have just given you a couple of websites which can help you on your way to becoming an ocean advocate.

Lauren 🙂

Feeding pollution: Eutrophication

Eutrophication… What is it? What does it cause? What can we do?

  • Eutrophication is a process caused by an influx of nutrients into aquatic ecosystems; it results in an overgrowth of algae which has detrimental effects on other plants and animals. Eutrophication is something I believe not enough people know about… and they should as it’s our human activities that are speeding up the process and enabling it to affect more and more areas. Agriculture is the main contributor to eutrophication; the fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals used in farming contains nitrates and phosphates which run off land into rivers and streams then eventually reach lakes and the sea, which causes eutrophication to take place. Industrial activity and sewage disposal also adds to the problem.
  • What you are seeing here is a toxic algal bloom, this is a result of eutrophication!

hhhh

Algae feed on the nutrients, flourishing and killing other species. Algal blooms prevent sunlight from reaching other plants which stops photosynthesis and results in a lack of oxygen in the water. Not to mention the harmful toxins being released by the blooms. However, it is not only animals and plants being affected by eutrophication – the consequences also affect us as these toxic algal blooms are also extremely harmful to our health if on our skin or ingested.

Our fisheries and public water systems are something we rely on. They are both financially affected by eutrophication…

So surely it is in our best interest to prevent it?

  • There are a few methods that could be used to reduce eutrophication and its effects such as; wastewater treatment, maintenance of flood plains and riparian buffers.

– Further treating of our wastewater would certainly decrease the anthropogenic waste that is being pumped into rives, lakes and seas.

– Maintaining flat plains along the side of rivers can also help to reduce the nutrient load, when the water rises and the river floods the nutrient rich sediment will be deposited onto the plains and not into aquatic ecosystems.

-Riparian buffers are large areas of vegetation between a river and agricultural land, preventing run off and decreasing the input of nutrients into the river.

These are methods would be effective and are relatively simple. If we have the ability to prevent eutrophication, do a little to save the environment and help ourselves along the way…Why don’t we?

Of course these methods will not be cheap but it’s a small price to pay in the long run. These were only a few methods – there must be more out there!

Kathini

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Microbeads, macro-pollution:

Some people don’t even realise the damage that just washing their face or brushing their teeth with the wrong brand of product can do to our oceans. Products that contain tiny beads of plastic, such as face and body scrubs and some toothpastes, are the main perpetrators of the accumulation of these tiny beads in fish and other marine organisms.

Microbeads are really tiny plastic particles usually smaller than two millimeters.  They’re widely used in cosmetics as exfoliating agents and personal care products such as toothpaste, as well as biomedical and health science research, microscopy techniques, fluid visualization and fluid flow analysis, and process troubleshooting. They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene. Bottom line, it’s all plastic!

Microbeads don’t degrade, they will just breakdown into small and smaller pieces of plastic – the scary thing is, plastic is already the most abundant element in oceans. Microbeads are easily mistaken for food in the ocean, to the point the plankton are eating them. Something as small as plankton! Hard to believe the plastic would become that small isn’t it? Plankton is at the bottom of most marine food chains, so the beads travel, and as they travel they are collecting POPs (persistent organic pollutants), long-lasting toxic chemicals like pesticides, flame retardants, motor oil and more. Theses POPs are being carried up the food chain, all the way to us. In turn something we place in the ocean is returning to us, served on a plate. Literally.

In 2015 it was estimated that in the US there were 8 trillion microbeads a day entering the ocean. But the US isn’t alone, microbeads are in products in most countries, but there is hope. Globally pressures are rising on governments to ban the usage of microbeads, and it’s working.

Currently the US has called a ban on products that use microbeads, check out this video:

The next step is to get other countries and eventually the rest of the world to eradicate the use of plastic microbeads in their products. There are alternatives to microbeads which are biodegradable and less harmful to the ocean.

For now though to personally help the cause, please try and choose products that don’t use microplastics; there are environmentally friendly products that use things such as apricot shells, cocoa beans, coffee or sands instead.

Why aren’t they removed in water treatment, you may cry. The particles are so tiny that it is near impossible to filter them out. The ones that are? Well they end up in water treatment sludge which is used to fertilise land, the microbeads then get washed off by rain and end up in the rivers on their way to the sea. The 90% of the micro plastics that is removed in the Sewage treatment plants eventually ends up in the sludge.

I have included a list of all the companies and their products which are known to contain microbeads in the UK so you can choose to avoid them and help save our oceans and marine life.

http://beatthemicrobead.org/images/pdf/redUK.pdf

Or if you would rather something to have when you’re around the shops, there is an app. Beat the microbead! The North Sea Foundation and the Plastic Soup Foundation – launched the smartphone App in 2012 as part of their Beat the Microbead campaign. The app allows people in Hong Kong and many other countries scan the barcodes of personal care products to check for the presence of microbeads. The apps is ran by Plastic Free Seas volunteers, who have been scanning products and uploading to make it easier for consumers to make a more informed choice. Hong kong still have a long way to go as they have new microbead products being released frequently, and you can always volunteer to keep updating the app through the Plastic Soup Foundation.

Beth x

References:

www.oceanhealthindex.org/news/Microplastics

Plastic Soup Foundation

beatthemicrobead.org/images/pdf/redUK.pdf

storyofstuff.org/plastic-microbeads-ban-the-bead/

www.plasticfreeseas.org/microbeads.html

www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:773505/FULLTEXT01.pdf

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Marine litter and its effect on people:

An estimated eight million individual pieces of litter debris enter our oceans every day! That’s over 6 million tonnes of litter entering our oceans every year, which is the equivalent to the weight of 1 million elephants. Blows my mind every time I think about it.

This astonishing amount of litter risks the lives of 177 species of reptiles, mammals and fish. Every time you leave one piece of litter on the beach you could be killing organism after organism. Marine litter takes about 50 years before it washes from the coast to the gyres where it will remain until it degrades – that’s if it ever breaks down.

Plastic litter on beaches has increased 140% since 1994.

140%, but as mentioned in a previous post, beaches only receive 15% of litter that enter the oceans. Consider how dire our situation is if we don’t change now, as it isn’t just the marine mammals in danger. There are over 1 million sea bird deaths each year due to marine litter, but it’s not just the reptiles, birds, mammals and fish that are being affected. This is a much larger scale issue.

Cigarettes – 4.5 trillion cigarette butts enter the environment every year.

When cigarettes are wet they release toxic chemicals and obviously some will end up on our beaches, slowly poisoning the sand, and then when they break down into their fibres, they are often eaten by marine organisms, which can choke them or cause starvation.

Local Authorities in the UK spend approximately £18 million each year removing beach litter, which represents a 37% increase in cost over the past 10 years.

We are causing beaches to become flooded with litter. It doesn’t just make the beach unsightly, but it can potentially cause injury to people. Debris like medical waste (syringes), broken glass and rusty metals are washed up and are waiting for someone to step on. This is an obvious health risk and also has a negative effect of the aesthetic value of the coastline and beaches, so tourists and residents are willing to pay less to visit, or stop visiting all together. The service value of the area also significantly reduces, which will affect communities which rely on the tourism and income of tourists.

Scottish fishing vessels survey – 86% restricted catch due to marine litter, 82% had catch contaminated 95% snagged gear on debris in water.

Approx. 58% of marine litter is attributed to shoreline and recreational activities. That drops the responsibility to us – we can’t continue to pass the blame for our beaches to industry or government – the faulty primarily stops with us and what we do. Sad, isn’t it? We are destroying something we enjoy so much.

In the UK many SCUBA divers will carry knifes with them or know someone who does as it’s known for divers to become caught in rope, fishing line, plastics, and be unable to become free, leading to a risk that people will drown. The fact is that our littering can risk lives and kill people. According to the British Sub-Aqua Club, approximately one or two entanglement incidents occur each year in the UK and are potentially life-threatening, usually involving monofilament netting. Swimmers, surfers and anyone else who enters the water are also at risk. Boats can also become entangled in rope, causing boating accidents with many smaller vesicles propellers becoming damaged when hit with marine litter.

70% of ports and marinas in the UK have reported users experiencing incidents involving litter.

Water at public swimming spots is being cleaner every year in the UK. However, some of Britain’s best known beaches were set to fail new EU standards in 2015. But in the year before the government were able to plan and improve the water quality by changing drainage systems and removing litter. 97% of the UKs beaches were able to meet new tighter regulations. Why can’t we work this hard when it’s not a regulation in place? Why should it take the risk of losing our public beaches for us to act to save them?

 

Josh 🙂

 

References:

www.sas.org.uk/issues/marine-litter/

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