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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-11-11 08:24 PM
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Fishing for plastic
Callum Roberts
guardian.co.uk, Friday 6 May 2011 17.03 BST

Rarely has a TV campaign been won so convincingly. In January this year, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fish Fight programme persuaded over 600,000 of us to support a ban on the wasteful practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea. The European commission listened and has announced it intends to ban discarding fish.

For some peculiar reason, the fishing industry's reaction to the commission's announcement was not as warm as you might have expected. A discard ban will put many out of business, we now hear, presumably because many of the fish caught as bycatch are smaller and less valuable than the ones fishermen land today. So in announcing the plan, Maria Damanaki, the European fisheries commissioner, sought to soften the blow. Under her proposal, fishermen may be paid to fish for plastic instead.

Plastic fisheries sound daft, but the idea is far from silly. Our seas are awash with plastic bottles, bags, nappies, discarded fishing nets, ropes and thousands of other bits and pieces the flotsam of modern life. By 2008, the latest year for which I have a figure, 260m tonnes of plastics were made using 8% of global oil production in raw materials and energy. The curve of production over time bends upwards like a cliff face, increasing by 9% per year. The stark reality of this ever-steepening upward climb is that more plastic was made in the first 10 years of this century than all of the plastic ever created up to the year 2000.

Deliberate dumping of plastic at sea has been banned since 1998, but the law is hard to police. The amount of rubbish picked from British beaches in cleanups sponsored by the Marine Conservation Society increased 77% between 1994 and 2009, much of it chucked from ships. Rivers add mindboggling amounts of plastic into the sea daily; much of it soon comes back to a coast near you. Every year, about 2,000 items of rubbish (most of it plastic) washes ashore for each kilometre of beach in Europe. The Mediterranean is worst affected with up to 18,000 pieces per kilometre per year, so it isn't surprising that the European commission plan to test their plastic fishing proposal there first. Even the deep sea is not beyond reach. About half of plastics sink, and submarine pilots regularly see bags float past 1,000 metres down.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/06/eu-...
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Kolesar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-11-11 08:32 PM
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1. Adult birds pick up floating plastics at sea and feed them to their chicks.
I remember watching the Missouri river at "bankful" (almost flood stage) and watching a stream of plastic bottles flow by all day.
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