Experts have explained to MPs the impact marine litter is having on waterways like the Thames.

The Port of London Authority told members of the All Party Parliamentary Maritime and Ports Group that 300 tonnes of drift debris is removed from the river every year, much of it plastic materials like single use plastic bottles.

The presentation in Parliament  follows the launch PLA’s  Cleaner Thames campaign in the autumn – as reported by River Thames News.

PLA environment manager Tanya Ferry said: “We collect the equivalent weight of 24,000 discarded water bottles. But it is just the tip of the iceberg, as we can only remove litter off the foreshore and floating into our driftwood collectors. 

“The sheer volume of rubbish is frightening and has an impact on the port and marine environment, which is home to birds, fish, seals and is the UK’s busiest waterway, with tens of thousands of jobs dependant on it.” 

Findings in a Thames study by Royal Holloway University of London and the Natural History Museum underlines the concern.  They found that 75% of the flatfish species, flounder, from sites in the tidal Thames have plastic in their bellies.

Dr Dave Morritt, of  Royal Holloway University of London said:” “Our studies have shown that there are considerable amounts of plastic rubbish moving along the river bottom in the Thames. This may lead to fragmentation into smaller pieces which means that plastic is more likely to be ingested by fish species.

“Thus bottom-feeding fish, such as flounder, may be particularly affected. Indeed we now have preliminary evidence that at certain sites 75% of flounder have plastic fibres and other fragments in their guts. Our studies are continuing on a wider range of species”.

Food Chain

He added “There may be implications for the food chain if chemicals from plastics leach into fish tissues and then are then accumulated in other fish and birds feeding on them”

Chairing the Parliamentary Group, Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar and Limehouse said:
“The Thames runs through my constituency, so it is very worrying to hear of the impact of litter on my local marine environment.

“This issue should be addressed head on, by tackling the causes of litter entering the marine environment.  Given the source of litter, we need to encourage behavioural change, to get people to be more responsible in the disposal of their waste”

The Cleaner Thames Campaign  is calling on people to ensure their rubbish goes in a bin - not in the River Thames. MORE HERE.

Story dated June 9th 2016