Litter on British beaches soars

Wed Apr 8, 2009 11:58am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - The amount of litter dumped on beaches across Britain has more than doubled in the last 15 years to its highest ever level, endangering the health of wildlife and humans, according to a survey on Wednesday.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said its beachwatch 2008 annual survey had found an average of 2,195 items of litter per kilometer of beach, a rise of 110 percent since 1994.

Over 5,000 volunteers cleaned and surveyed 374 beaches for its survey, uncovering 385,659 items of litter in the process.

Items such as food packaging and cigarette butts dropped by the public make up more than a third of all litter, with discarded fishing paraphernalia accounting for 13 percent.

The MCS said marine animals and seabirds often ingest litter or accidentally eat plastic, leading to infections or death.

Discarded fishing nets and lines were also a common cause of entanglement for marine wildlife, it added.

Humans were also affected as some plastics can attract toxic chemicals, while filter-feeding animals that ingested plastic particles could see pollutants ultimately entering the human food chain.

Furthermore, council and taxpayers had to pay out millions of pounds to clear up litter from the beaches.

The MCS said it wanted to halve the litter on Britain's beaches by 2015 and called on the government to take action.   Continued...