Inert solid wastes and litter

During the British Steel Round the World Yacht Race in 1992-3, the crews took part in a project called 'Ocean Vigil'. Part of this project involved recording floating rubbish. The crews reported oil slicks, plastic containers and bags, fishing nets, wood, oil drums, shoes and a freezer! Rubbish was present even in the remotest parts of the Southern Ocean. Some estimates suggest that the world's ships dump or lose 6 billion kilograms of rubbish into the oceans every year. Yet more enters through our sewerage systems. Much of this eventually gets washed up on the seashore. The majority of this rubbish (possibly more than 80 per cent) is plastic, including plastic pellets, bags, sheeting and bottles, condoms, monofilament fishing nets and drink pack holders. A further major source of debris on beaches comes from tourist and recreational use.

Most plastic degrades only very slowly and even with the controls now being implemented (see Section 10.1.4) it will take many, many years for the situation

Table 10.3 Sources of marine debris collected from selected beaches by 'Beachwatch '96' (see Figure 10.1). From: Pollard and Parr (1996) Beachwatch '96 nationwide beach-clean and survey report by kind permission of the Marine Conservation Society.

Sources

Total

Per cent

Tourist/recreational

64 272

22.1

Shipping

50 654

17.4

Sewage-related debris

39 240

13.5

Fishing

36 467

12.5

Fly-tipping

2 822

1.0

Medical

214

0.1

Non-sourced

97 559

E 500 E

199200

1201 ll

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