During the 2003/04 austral summer the fourteenth annual beach debris survey was carried out at Signy Island, South Orkney Islands. Debris was cleared each month between December and March from the three study beaches. The debris was counted, measured and classified by type, material, mass and size categories. A total of 21 items weighing 11.59kg were collected. The number of items found was lower than the total found during the previous season, as was the total mass of the waste recovered (a decrease of 61% and 57.56% since 2002/03 respectively). There was a decrease in the number of plastic packaging bands (5) from the total recorded the previous season (twenty three), this decrease reversing the rise in packaging bands experienced over the previous two seasons and marking a return to what has otherwise proved a declining trend since 1993/94. Despite this seasons decrease in these packaging bands, the fact that they continue to appear as beach debris indicates that the ban on their use aboard fishing vessels brought into force by CCAMLR in 1995/96 has yet to prove entirely effective and should continue. Plastic waste was predominant, as in previous seasons, making up 62% of all items recorded, followed by wood at 24%. The results of this seasons litter survey, clearly shows that the longevity of plastics and other materials with a high resistance to degradation in the marine environment remains a problem and highlights the need for continued monitoring to ensure that vessels are aware of, and comply with, regulations prohibiting the disposal of debris at sea.
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