Sea-bird death toll leads to call for tax on plastic bags
WILDLIFE in the North Sea is increasingly falling victim to human waste, with virtually all dead sea-birds found to have eaten litter carried in the water, according to a new study.
Scientists measuring the amount of waste found in fulmars discovered that 96 per cent of the birds had fragments of plastic in their stomachs.
The figure was almost double the amount discovered in the early 1980s, the researchers said. Environmental groups - which are backing an MSP’s bid to introduce a levy on plastic bags in shops in Scotland - branded the figures "truly shocking".
An international team of researchers led by the Marine and Coastal Zone Research Institute in the Netherlands analysed the stomach contents of 382 dead fulmars.
Fragments of plastic were found in 367 of the birds, found dead between 1982 and 2001.
Ropes, nets, polystyrene, nylon, foam, boxes, toys, tools, toothbrushes, lighters, cigarettes and rubber were found in the birds’ stomachs.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Dr Dan Barlow said the North Sea had been used as a dumping ground for too long.
"In addition to sewage, oil slicks, chemical and radioactive pollution, 20,000 tonnes of litter is being disposed of in the North Sea every year," he said.
Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Pringle said the study was another reason to back his plans for a Members’ Bill in the Scottish Parliament for a levy on plastic bags.
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