The eighth annual beach debris survey was carried out at Signy Island (UK), South Orkney Islands during the 1997/98 austral summer. Debris was cleared each month between January and March from three study beaches, Cummings Cove, Foca Cove and Starfish Cove after the prolonged presence of sea ice around the South Orkney Islands prevented the base from opening until 12 January. The debris was counted, measured and classified by type, material, weight and size categories. A total of 29 items weighing 3.6 kg were collected at Cummings Cove, 11 items weighing 0.9 kg were found at Foca Cove and four items with a total weight of 1.7 kg were found at Starfish Cove. The total number of marine debris items collected from the beaches was the lowest recorded since the surveys began in 1990. This follows a continuing downward trend since 1993/94. The total weight of debris was 400/0 higher compared with 1996/97 but was still the second lowest recorded. The proportion of plastic items found remained high, accounting for 570/0 of all items found. Despite the ban on the use of packaging bands aboard fishing vessels brought into force by CCAMLR in 1996, 36% of the debris found at Signy were packaging bands although the number recovered has been decreasing since 1993/94. The reduction in debris reported at Signy Island in 1997/98 continues a promising trend. However the considerable amount of plastic, particularly packaging bands, still being washed ashore highlights the need for continued monitoring and increased effort to ensure that vessels are aware of, and comply with, regulations prohibiting the disposal of garbage at sea.
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