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    Beach litter survey - Signy Island, South Orkney Islands 1995/96

    Request Meeting Document
    Document Number:
    Delegation of the United Kingdom
    Agenda Item(s)

    A beach litter survey was carried out on Signy Island, South Orkney Islands during the 1995/96 austral summer. Similar surveys have been conducted during the previous five summers. Debris was cleared from three study beaches, Foca Cove, Cummings Cove and Starfish Cove, in January and February 1996 and items were identified. counted, weighed and any clues regarding their origin noted. No other beach surveys were carried out. This was because of logistical difficulties caused by the late break out of sea-ice and the redevelopment of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) research station on Signy Island.
    At Foca Cove, 26 items were found with a combined weight of 1.20 kg, and at Cummings Cove 81 items (6.23 kg). No items were found at Starfish Cove.
    As in previous years, it is clear that almost all debris found on Signy Island originates from accidental or deliberate dumping of rubbish or fishing gear from fishing vessels. Only 2 of the 107 items recovered from the study beaches (~2%) were identified as originating from the research station.
    The 1995/96 survey data show a reduction in both the weight of debris and the total number of items found on all three study beaches compared to data from 1994/95 and 1993/94. The results from 1995/96 were the lowest recorded since 1992/93, Comparison of monthly surveys carried out during January 1995/96, 1993/94, 1992/93 suggests that the reduction found in 1995/96 is a real trend rather than an artifact of reduced sampling effort.
    The total number of plastic items recovered still remains high (45.8% of all items recovered from the study beaches). The most numerous type of plastic recovered was packaging bands (71.4% of all plastic items recovered). Fortunately, nearly all broads had been cut. No nylon line, as used in tong-line fisheries, was recovered.
    Based on the small amount of beach debris recovered it is suggested that the fishing effort during 1995/96 around the South Orkney Islands was probably very low.