Offshore Marine Litter in Swansea Bay, Wales, UK

by S. L. Simmons, Univ of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, United Kingdom,
A. Fricker, Univ of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, United Kingdom,
A. T. Williams, Univ of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, United Kingdom,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '93


Offshore litter can originate from various sources; with land based (i.e., rivers and beaches), sewage disposal sites and sea dumping being the main source areas. Much work has been carried out on beach/riverine litter, but the problem of submerged marine litter has not been recognized and will worsen with time. White Oyster Ledge is an underwater reef located in 20m of water some 4 km offshore in swansea Bay, UK. Litter entangled in 30 gill nets sited on this ledge was collected and quantified by number and weight(total number 3670, total weight 6367g.). Sewage derived materials i.e., sanitary towels (by far the largest category), condoms, plastics and nappies accounted for 24% of the total number and 7% of total litter weight. The sanitary towels were subdivided into, panty liners 146, absorbent materials 21, mini-pads 188, press on towels 361 and unidentified 155. The Swansea conurbation >200,000 people) theoretically is capable of flushing some 8000 towels daily into the sewage system . Of the general litter category, trawl netting, string/rope, paper, tyres etc accounted for <2% of the total numbers found, but 35% of the weight. Other major contributors were food wrappers together with clear/coloured plastics derived from beach and land sources. With respect to numbers and weights of total litter found, food wrappers and carrier bags comprised 8% and 9%; clear plastics 34% and 27%; coloured plastics 32% and 22% respectively. Litter in this sink area has an economical cost on commercial fishing as well as posing an ecological threat.

Subject Headings: Solid wastes | Sewage | Synthetic materials | Plastics | Ecosystems | Bays | Waste management | United Kingdom | Europe | Wales

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