The ninth annual beach debris survey was carried out at Signy Island, South Orkney Islands during the 1998/99 austral summer. Debris was cleared each month between November and March from three study beaches. The debris was counted, measured and classified by type, material, mass and size categories. A total of 83 items weighing 12.96 kg was collected. The number of items recovered was the highest since 1996/97 and showed an increase of 86% compared to the previous year. The total mass of items recovered was more than double the mass of items in 1997/98. Classifying the material by source revealed that 40% had come from ships or fishing vessels in the form of packaging bands, fishing net and foam packing material. The last accounted for 58% of items small enough to be ingested by seals and seabirds. The proportion of plastic items remained high, accounting for 45% of all items found. Despite the ban on the use of packaging bands aboard fishing vessels brought into force by CCAMLR in 1995/96, the number of packaging bands recovered remained the same as the previous season. The fact that the number of bands did not increase may indicate that the regulations are working and that their continued recovery from beaches at Signy may be partly to do with their longevity in the marine environment. The increase in debris reported at Signy Island in 1998/99 highlights the need for continued monitoring and increased effort to ensure that vessels are aware of, and comply with, regulations prohibiting the disposal of debris at sea.
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