A remote island in the South Atlantic that receives waste from around the world by sea

A remote island in the South Atlantic that receives waste from around the world by sea

A tidal wave of plastic debris from around the world is washing up on Ascension Island, environmentalists say.

21 November
2022
– 08h01

(Updated at 08:46)

“Plastic is a great thing, 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 coastline of a remote South Atlantic island, according to environmentalists and researchers.

Activists say the trash found on the southwest coast of Ascension Island is 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.

She said more than 900 species of marine life are threatened by pollution.

Ascension Island has a variety of native species that are affected by plastic pollution. It is home to various species of land crabs, frigate birds, sharks, sea turtles, fish and birds.

The remote island belonging to the United Kingdom is the target of several biodiversity conservation projects.

“So much plastic is misused. It’s heartbreaking,” ZSL marine biologist Fiona Llewellyn told the BBC. They say big business and governments must take responsibility for the pollution they cause.

Llewellyn and his team found more than 7,000 pieces of plastic during their expedition.

Environmentalists cleaning up the island's coastline

Environmentalists cleaning up the island’s coastline

Photo: ZSL, Alice Chamberlain / BBC News Brazil

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

Animals ingest and become entangled in plastic, which can 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 gear and cigarette butts.

Much of the waste is trapped in hard-to-reach and dangerous cliffs. “It was really challenging to get off the rocks to get to this coastal area and count all the plastics there,” she says.

ZSL’s conservation team works with the Ascension Island Government, the St Helena National Trust, the Government of St Helena, the University of Exeter and Nelson Mandela University in South Africa to tackle plastic pollution.

The entire project will last three years and will involve monitoring water flow and movement, identifying plastic bottles, assessing their shelf life and production date, and understanding when and where they entered the water.

– This text was published https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-63659503

The researchers toured the island with the support of locals and the government

The researchers toured the island with the support of locals and the government

Photo: ZSL, Alice Chamberlain / BBC News Brazil

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