Campaign launched to prevent dumping in North Sea
Plastic dumped in the ocean doesn’t break down and is a hazard for fish and seabirds, as well as finding its way into the human food supply
Every year across the world, eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped in the sea, according to the UN. “Belgium is also confronted with the problem,” De Backer said. “For example, every kilo of sand contains 150 pieces of plastic.”
That plastic does not break down and is often swallowed by fish and seabirds, with fatal results. The animals affected can also become part of the human food supply: mussels feed by filtering sea-water, so any plastic they eat can later be eaten by us.
De Backer is also working closely with fellow minister Christine Marghem, who is in charge of environmental affairs, to come up with an anti-pollution policy. “We are also working with other parties who have an interest in the North Sea,” said De Backeer. “Abandoned or lost fishing nets, for example, can also cause serious problems. That’s why we’re getting together with the fishing industry to look at natural, biodegradable alternatives.”
Together with the fishing industry, he has launched the Fishing for Litter project, whereby “fishermen, who used to throw back any plastic picked up in their nets can now easily gather it and bring it to land”.
Photo: Michaelis Scientists/Wikimedia
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