During the 2001/2002 austral summer the twelth annual beach debris survey was carried out at Signy Island, South Orkney Islands. Debris was cleared each month between December and March from three study beaches. The debris was counted, measured and classified by type, mass and size categories. A total of 39 items weighing 25.47kg were collected. The number of items found was the largest since 1999/00 and the total mass of the waste recovered was the highest recorded since 1994/95 (an increase of 59% by number and 97% by mass since 2000/01). There was an increase in the number of plastic packaging bands (eight) from the total recorded the previous season (1), a change in what has otherwise been a declining trend since 1993/94. Plastic waste was predominant, as in previous seasons, making up71% of all items recorded, followed by wood ( 23%). Classifying the waste by source revealed that almost all had originated from ships or fishing vessels, with only one item having come from the Signy Research Station. However, with the exception of 1998/99, this has been the first season that the quantity of waste recorded at Signy Island has shown a reverse in what has otherwise been a declining trend since 1993/94. This increase clearly shows that 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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