December 7, 2022

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The remote island in the South Atlantic receives trash from all over the world by sea

Environmentalists say a wave of plastic trash from around the world is washing up on Ascension Island.

21 Nov
– 08h01

(Updated at 08:46)

“Plastic is a great material, but it will never go away,” says Fiona Llewellyn

Photo: ZSL, Alice Chamberlain / BBC News Brazil

Thousands of pieces of plastic from around the world are polluting the beaches of a remote South Atlantic island, environmentalists and researchers report.

Activists say the debris found on Ascension Island’s southwest coast came from countries including China, Japan and South Africa.

A team of researchers and activists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) spent five weeks assessing the level of contamination at the site.

More than 900 marine species are threatened by pollution, they said.

Ascension Island is home to a wide variety of native species and is vulnerable to plastic pollution. This is the case with the land crab, the warbler and many species of sharks, turtles, fish and birds.

The remote island, owned by the United Kingdom, is the target of several biodiversity conservation projects.

“So much plastic is misused. It’s mind-boggling,” ZSL marine biologist Fiona Llewellyn tells the BBC. He says that big business and governments must be held accountable for the pollution they cause.

Llewellyn and his team found 7,000 pieces of plastic during their trip.

Environmentalists cleaning the island's beaches

Environmentalists cleaning the island’s beaches

Photo: ZSL, Alice Chamberlain / BBC News Brazil

The tiny island, home to just 800 people, is concerned about pollution. Only a small amount of plastic on its beaches comes from the island. Llewellyn says, “It’s easy to see that most of it comes from elsewhere.”

Animals ingest plastic, get stuck in it, and cause damage. There are growing concerns about microplastics entering the food chain.

The most common types of plastic on the island are bottles, broken pieces of hard plastic, fishing equipment and cigarette butts.

Most of the debris is deposited on rocks that are difficult and dangerous to reach. “It’s very challenging to go down to the rocks to get to this beach and count all the plastic there,” he says.

The ZSL Conservation Group is working with the Government of Ascension Island, the National Trust of St Helena, the Government of St Helena, the University of Exeter and the Nelson Mandela University of South Africa in an effort to tackle plastic pollution.

The overall project will involve monitoring currents and water movement, identifying plastic bottles, assessing their expiration and production dates, and understanding when and where they entered the water.

– This text has been published

The researchers toured the island with the support of local residents and the government

The researchers toured the island with the support of local residents and the government

Photo: ZSL, Alice Chamberlain / BBC News Brazil

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