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Cornwall's Marine Litter Crackdown

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7:02am 18th October 2014

Cornwall calls for sweeping action on marine litter.

A report from St Agnes based Surfers Against Sewage claims the problem has doubled in 20 years.

The charity reckons it costs us £18 million a year to clear up.

There are calls for tougher laws, more responsibility from manufacturers and personal action.

Campaigns director Andy Cummins told Pirate FM they are working to get that reduced by 2020: "Every beach surveyed we found beach litter on. Northumbria University sampled a random litre of sand and found over ten thousand microscopic plastic particles present. Litter is being found consistently in sea bed surveys - all the way out as far out as the continental shelf - over a million seabirds and a hundred thousand sea mammals will die every year from ingestion and entanglement. We need to reduce the amount of marine litter by 50%."

He added we can all do our bit to help: "Action is needed on the beaches. This weekend the Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Beach Clean Series will have 120 volunteer led beach clean events. Turn up, we'll provide the gloves, we'll provide the bin bags and there's plenty of litter on the beach for us all to help remove."

You can find your nearest beach clean here.

Hugo Tagholm, SAS Chef Executive said: "Marine litter is one of the biggest threats to the health of our precious marine environment and it's vital that we ramp up our collective actions to combat the crisis. Surfers Against Sewage's Marine Litter Report maps out radical, yet tried and tested new measures that can deliver a cleaner, greener coastline by 2020. Cutting off the flow of marine litter at source is critical to our vision to stop plastic and other debris from polluting our beaches."
Surfers Against Sewage suggests stopping marine litter at source including smoking bans on beaches, environmental health warnings on single-use packaging, reinstating container deposit schemes and better enforcement of fines for littering along the coastline.  

The report also calls on the public to refuse single-use plastic products where possible and for industry to be more accountable for the full lifecycle of packaging and products through extended producer responsibility schemes.  
SAS's Marine Litter Report was launched at the first Protect Our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group, which has been set up to look at how marine litter can be tackled, how sewage spills can be reduced and how inappropriate coastal development be curbed.

At a glance:

  • Approximately 8 million individual items of litter enter the sea every day.  
  • The amount of beach litter in the UK has doubled in the last 20 years.  
  • 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles die annually from ingestion of, and entanglement in marine litter.
  • Local Authorities in the UK spend £18 million annually removing beach litter.
  • Surfers Against Sewage aims to inspire 25,000 beach clean volunteers annually by 2020

It calls for:

  • Personal Behavioural Changes including refusing single-use plastics, increasing community beach clean activities and encouraging communities to take legal action against irresponsible landowners.
  • Industry innovation including introducing extended producer responsibility initiatives, reinstating container deposit schemes and removing plastic components from all sanitary products.
  • New legislation banning smoking on key beaches, banning balloon releases, introducing prominent environmental health warnings on single-use packaging and enforcing fines for littering at beaches.

Alyx Elliott, Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection says: "For too long, the sea has been treated as a convenient expanse into which rubbish can be effectively lost. We've become too content to believe that the Oceans somehow look after themselves, and silently swallow up all we throw at them. Meanwhile the seabed has become choked with dumped, abandoned or lost fishing gear resulting in the killing or harming of thousands of marine mammals that get entangled in them every year  - dolphins, porpoises,  whales, seals, and leatherback turtles as well as seabirds. Surfers Against Sewage Marine Litter report makes an urgent case for action in what is increasingly becoming a recognised problem in the UK. We are proud to support them on this initiative."  
Gary Thompson, Coastal and Stewardship Manger at The Crown Estate, said: "The Crown Estate is pleased to have funded the preparation and production of the Surfers Against Sewage 'Marine Litter Report' in helping protect, and sustainably manage, the marine environment. Our Marine Stewardship Fund seeks to provide funding for projects such as this that broaden our understanding of the environment and the impact we have on it as well as helping to enhance the marine and coastal assets that we manage for the benefit of the nation."

7:02am 18th October 2014

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