The Beach Cleanup Tour’s eighth edition saw volunteers go along the Dutch North Sea coast cleaning up litter
Translated by Thomas Ansell
Rubbish in the North Sea is a huge problem, and a threat for wildlife, fish stocks, and water quality. Though the North Sea itself is getting cleaner, say researchers, progress is still slow and beaches are often strewn with litter.
Luckily, there are plenty of citizen’s action campaigns working to help clean the coastline: one of which, the Beach Cleanup Tour, took place last weekend reports the Omrop Fryslân.
Over a thousand volunteers took to the Dutch North Sea coast on Sunday, including on the Wadden Island of Schiermonnikoog (other islands will be cleaned in the coming weeks). “One of the reasons that we have targeted this island”, says Francine Hijmans of the Sitchting De Noordzee, “is still the MSC Zoe disaster. Of the 3.2 million kilos of stuff that fell overboard, there’s still about 800,000 kilos unaccounted for.”
Time is key
A growing issue is the time that has passed since the items entered the sea: “the longer that something sits in the sea, the more likely it is that it breaks into smaller pieces, and it becomes very hard to find”, says Hijmans.
Generally, though, the ongoing trend is positive. “We’ve been doing research into dumping into the sea for about 20 years, and in the last 10 years the trend has been towards less rubbish- about 27 percent less on the beaches.”
“But on one bit of beach we found 282 bits of rubbish in one hundred metres, and that’s really too much”, says Hijmans.
This year a particular new problem is cigarette filters, “it’s a small bit of litter, but still harmful. It’s got lots of harmful substances in, is about 95 percent plastic, and can pollute up to eight litres of water.”