Halt the killer plas­tics

The Scarborough Evening News - - FRONT PAGE - by Poppy Kennedy poppy.kennedy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @Re­porterPoppy

Scar­bor­ough could lead the way in cut­ting down on dis­carded plas­tic that is killing ma­rine life.

This week The Scar­bor­ough News is back­ing calls to re­duce dam­ag­ing plas­tic and lit­ter along the York­shire coast.

Dis­carded food con­tain­ers as well as plas­tic bot­tles and beach toys are lit­ter­ing the shore­line – and get­ting into the sea amid grow­ing re­ports of seals, seabirds and other ma­rine life chok­ing or be­ing snared by de­bris. Blue Planet,

the most-watched TV pro­gramme of the year for its fi­nal episode, showed how the oceans are threat­ened by over­fish­ing and plas­tic pol­lu­tion.

York­shire coast and Scar­bor­ough cam­paign­ers are also call­ing for ac­tion.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Scar­bor­ough’s Sea Life Sanc­tu­ary see just how detri­men­tal the im­pact of ma­rine lit­ter has on the en­vi­ron­ment.

“When it comes to the sum­mer months peo­ple seem to think if it’s on the beach it’s in the bin,” says the sanc­tu­ary’s Cor­rine Mac­don­ald.

“It’s one of our big cam­paigns here. We have seen the af­fects of this, in the rock­pools we don’t see as much wildlife as we once would have done in years gone by.

“Over the year the sanc­tu­ary has been called to an­i­mal res­cues where the likes of seals have be­came caught in net­ting and plas­tic.

“If it’s an older seal they have a lot of blub­ber so we can usu­ally cut them free and their in­juries will heal them­selves.

“But for younger seals it’s a lot more dan­ger­ous and it can be deadly.”

It holds four beach cleans a year from April to Oc­to­ber.

She added: “Things like re-us­ing a plas­tic wa­ter bot­tle be­fore re­cy­cling it, us­ing a bag for life at the su­per­mar­ket rather than a plas­tic one, eat­ing sus­tain­ably caught fish and just pick­ing up your rub­bish so it doesn’t end up in the ocean, make a dif­fer­ence.”

Through­out 2017, this news­pa­per has cov­ered res­cues that or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the RSPCA and the seal­ife cen­tre have car­ried out to sup­port ma­rine wildlife in some of the most ob­vi­ous ef­fects of plas­tic pol­lu­tion.

At the end of Au­gust, a seal was res­cued off Raven­scar when a toy fris­bee be­came wrapped around its neck.

RSPCA An­i­mal Col­lec­tion Of­fi­cer Leanne HonessHeather said at the time: “He had a fris­bee dog toy stuck tight round his neck which had cut into his flesh and caused an in­fec­tion.

“We fre­quently see wildlife with the most ap­palling in­juries caused by care­lessly dis­carded lit­ter. By re­mov­ing this ma­rine de­bris as well as en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to dis­pose of their lit­ter ap­pro­pri­ately, we hope we can make a re­ally pos­i­tive im­pact on the wel­fare of wildlife around our shores.” Con­cerned res­i­dent Mandy Hil­lier,of Scalby Nabs, Scar­bor­ough, said: “Be­fore we lose the im­pact of tele­vi­sion’s Blue Planet and its dire warn­ings about plas­tics get­ting into the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment we could try to re­duce our own use.”

She has cre­ated posters urg­ing take­aways and stores along the sea fronts to cut down us­ing plas­tic straws.

Mrs Hil­lier added: “Do we need straws and if we do what is wrong with us­ing pa­per ones? Could more nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als re­place plas­tic cups, forks and knives and do we al­ways need those lids on top of take­away cups?

“I’m not an ex­pert but I’ve read what the Ma­rine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety has to say and any­thing we can do to cut down on plas­tics can only be pos­i­tive.”

The Scar­bor­ough Sub Aqua club, en­cour­aged by mem­ber Zoe Frank, is en­cour­ag­ing its mem­bers to pick up plas­tic/rub­bish while out on dives. John Se­nior, chair­man of South Bay Traders’ As­so­ci­a­tion, has of­fered to sched­ule the plas­tics is­sue at its next meet­ing. His restau­rants have al­ready switched to card­board dis­pos­able con­tain­ers for all take­away food.

At least one take-away seafront op­er­a­tion has agreed to look in to the pos­si­bil­ity of us­ing com­postible cut­lery/ trays etc and to ask cus­tomers if they re­ally need a plas­tic lid on their cups .

A mo­tion has been put for­ward to Scar­bor­ough Bor­ough Coun­cil to look at re­duc­ing sin­gle-use plas­tic in the area.

Eight mil­lion met­ric tonnes of plas­tic waste ends up in the world’s oceans each year en­dan­ger­ing ma­rine life. The mo­tion, by the Green

Party, says: “300 mil­lion tones of plas­tic are pro­duced around the globe each year. Of this, 50% is for dis­pos­able ap­pli­ca­tions such as pack­ag­ing. It is time for Scar­bor­ough Coun­cil to take a lead on this is­sue, in line with our Sus­tain­abil­ity Project.” It urges the cabi­net to show some form of en­gag­ing lead­er­ship and de­velop a “ro­bust strat­egy” with key peo­ple and groups to make the coun­cil a “sin­gle-use-plas­tic-free au­thor­ity” by the end of 2018.

Res­cuers had to save a seal with a toy fris­bee dig­ging into its neck at Raven­scar. Main pic­ture: Richard Pon­ter

Pic­ture: Richard Pon­ter

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