Conservationist warns of dangers of offshore ‘toxic soup’ in the sea

Conservationist Steve Trewhella with a lump of rubbish washed up at Chesil Beach

Conservationist Steve Trewhella with a lump of rubbish washed up at Chesil Beach

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A DORSET wildlife conservationist is calling on authorities to take action on the levels of rubbish in the sea.

It comes after weeks of severe storms in Dorset, which led to tonnes of debris, litter and dead seabirds being washed up along the Jurassic coastline.

Among the rubbish, lumps of a white, sticky substance were found on beaches which was found to be a rancid, vegetable based oil with fatty acids and hazardous to dogs and wildlife.

Steve Trewhella, of Wareham, says the problem is more ‘sinister’ than imagined with tighter regulations needed concerning the waste of shipping and fishing industries.

He told the Echo the true impact of these problems would begin to show over the next few years with a decline in razorbills, guillemots and puffins.

He said: “I believe there is a bigger more sinister problem lurking out in the Atlantic Ocean and our offshore waters.

“The problem is a toxic soup of broken down plastic and torn fishing nets.”

He also raised concerns about the hundreds of dead seabirds washed up along the Dorset coast.

He added: “Seabirds still wash ashore dead and dying, many are oiled and entangled and most have just not been able to feed.

“We have had many storms and we expect some birds to come ashore in this state but in over 30 years, I have never seen hundreds on so many different beaches. These birds should be feeding on the millions of bait fish such as sandeels and sprats, why are they washing up dead?”

Mr Trewhella, who is also a wildlife photographer, says the huge numbers of cigarette packets still being washed up along the coast has made matters even worse.

As reported in the Echo, a cargo ship lost a number of containers and it crossed the channel in stormy conditions.

There was estimated to be around 11 million cigarettes in the shipment, which was travelling from Rotterdam to Sri Lanka.

Mr Trewhella said: “The damage on the Dorset coast appears to be endless with untold amounts of litter and debris washing ashore, on top of this we now have biblical amounts of cigarettes rolling in on every tide.

“The authorities appear to be playing down the level and scale of this pollution incident, and the possible impacts on the wildlife and environment.

“They claim it will all be cleaned up, but already the packets are spilling contents into the sea and onto our beaches, making such a task impossible now.”

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