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A ring of coral islands described as the ‘greatest surviving natural treasures’ are being destroyed by plastic pollution.
During a cleanup programme last year, 25 tonnes of plastic were removed Aldabra, Seychelles, the world’s second-largest coral atoll. The waste consisted of fishing nets, bottles, lids and a whopping 360,000 flip-flops.
Th cleanup took 980 hours to complete over the duration of five weeks and cost an eye-watering $224,538. Scientists have said that Aldabra has the most waste ever seen on any island.
Despite an astonishing 25 tonnes being collected, the amount only made up for 5% of the island’s waste – 95% still remains there.
In a report created by the team from The Queen’s College, University of Oxford and the Seychelles Islands Foundation who conducted the cleanup last year, it would take a further 18,000 hours of labour to collect the remaining waste. They also estimated it would cost around £3.6 million.
April Burt, the lead researcher from the University of Oxford, said to Sky News:
Imagine if one of the world’s most famous museums was covered in trash and this trash was degrading the value of the paintings. This is the same equivalent.
These are issues that we are creating all around the world – this is not generated from within the Seychelles – so why should they have to pick up the bill?
While there were thousands of flip-flops found at the island, it’s thought that the bulk of the remaining plastic is nets discarded by industrial trawlers from around the world that catch tuna in the Indian Ocean.
Agreeing with Burt that Seychelles shouldn’t have to pick up the bill to cleanup all the waste, Jeremy Raguain, a conservationist with the Seychelles Islands Foundation, thinks those who create the pollution should pay.
At the end of the day it comes full circle. If the tuna you’re eating basically costs the environment, costs somewhere like Aldabra, it’s resilience and ecosystem services, you will also lose out in the long-run. It may not be today, but we’re starting to see that in the coming years.
Sadly, plastic pollution isn’t only affecting what are the beautiful coral islands, but other places too.
In June, masses of disposable, plastic masks were discovered by a cleanup team along France’s Côte d’Azur. Single-use plastic masks have been on the rise in recent months due to the ongoing health crisis with many failing to properly dispose of them, leaving them to end up in our oceans.
While cleanup teams like these ones in France and Aldabra are hugely important – they can’t tackle the world’s issue of pollution on their own. We all must try do better and help save our planet’s oceans.
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