During the 2000/2001 austral summer the eleventh annual beach debris survey was carried out at Signy Island, South Orkney Islands. 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 16 items weighing 0.74kg was collected. The number of items and the total mass of the waste recovered was the lowest ever recorded (a decrease of 70% and 93% since 1999/2000 respectively). The number of plastic packaging bands (one) was also the lowest ever recorded and follows a declining trend since 1993/94. This may indicate that the ban on their use aboard fishing vessels adopted by CCAMLR in 1995/96 has been effective and should continue. Plastic waste was predominant, as in previous seasons, with the proportion of plastic items (56%) being the third highest reported since surveys began. Classifying the waste by source revealed that 44% had come from ships or fishing vessels and 6% were from Signy Research Station. The rest comprised wood (25%) and items with no obvious source (25%). The duration of sea-ice around Signy Island was prolonged in 2000/2001 and may have limited the amount of marine debris washed ashore. However, with the exception of 1998/99, the quantity of waste recorded at Signy Island has been showing a declining trend since 1993/94. The longevity of plastics and other materials with a high resistence 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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