North Sea Fulmar Study

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: North Sea Fulmar Study
From: knightl <>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2004 13:21:07 +1000

Friends of the Earth Scotland
11 April 2004

"LIVING DUSTBIN" THREAT TO NORTH SEA WILDLIFE Group demands action from European candidates

Marine wildlife around the coastline of Scotland and other countries bordering the North Sea are being turned into _living dustbins" according to a scientific study. [1] Responding to news of the study, Friends of the Earth today challenged candidates seeking election to the European Parliament on 10 June to say what they would to to halt continuing pollution of the North Sea.

In an effort to estimate the level of marine litter in the North Sea scientists have been measuring the amount of plastic and other wastes found in the stomachs of Fulmar seabirds. The latest findings show that an incredible 96% of the sample of dead Fulmars had plastic fragments in their stomachs. According to the scientists on average these Fulmars carry about 30 pieces or 0.6 g of plastic (equivalent to a human walking around with 60 g of plastic in their stomach). This figure is almost double the amount found in dead Fulmars in the early 1980's.

Friends of the Earth Scotland_s Head of Research, Dr Dan Barlow, said:

_These finding are truly shocking. The North Sea has been used as a dumping ground for far too long. In addition to sewage, agricultural run-off, atmospheric pollution, oil slicks, chemical and radioactive pollution an incredible 20,000 tonnes of litter is being disposed of in the North Sea every year. From this research we now know that, due to these irresponsible actions, marine animals around Scotland's coast are being turned into living dustbins.

_European legislation has played a huge part in cleaning up the North Sea over the years, but it is clear there much more to be done. It is only through joint action with other countries that we will solve these pollution problems. That is why in the run up to the European elections in June we want to hear what each of the political parties will do, to protect the environment, if elected."

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[1] Save the North Sea Fulmar Study:

The Save the North Sea campaign is spearheading a number of activities to help combat marine litter in the North Sea and raise awareness of this extensive problem, to help change attitudes and behaviour. One of the key activities being funded by the campaign is an international study of Fulmar seabirds across regions in the North Sea.

Fulmars have the unfortunate habit of eating almost anything they encounter at the surface of the sea, including marine litter such as plastics. These birds are unique since they don't regurgitate what they have ingested, providing a very good tool for measuring the accumulation of plastic in their stomachs.

Items found in Fulmar stomachs include: plastic bags; foil; ropes; industrial plastic pellets; nets; nylon line; packaging straps; polystyrene cups; mattress and construction foam; plastic bottles, boxes, toys, tools, toothbrush, lighters; cigarette filters; rubber; and elastic

A total of 177 marine species have been reported to ingest litter items and 111 of the world_s 312 species of seabird are known accidentally to eat plastic.

Headed by Dutch researcher Dr Jan van Franeker, from the institute ALTERRA the study has included volunteer surveyors from Scotland, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, England, Sweden and Norway.

Study details available from:


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