The Malta Independent 2 August 2021, Monday

Nature Trust appeals for more urgent action on marine debris as another dead turtle is found

Tuesday, 19 January 2021, 14:49 Last update: about 7 months ago

Nature Trust - FEE Malta has renewed its appeal to the public to reduce marine litter after a dead juvenile loggerhead turtle was found entangled in plastics and abandoned fishing nets.

This was not a one-off case, the NGO said, adding that several similar cases had been reported during 2020.

One turtle, Maggie, which is now being cared for at Nature Trust's rehabilitation centre, lost three of its flippers.

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Furthermore, one of the turtles rescued during December 2020 was recently found to have over 28 grams of plastic in its stomach (photo below). The turtle would have likely died had these plastics not been removed.

The number of plastic debris and marine debris keeps increasing each year, even in Maltese waters, the NGO said. 

"Nature Trust - FEE Malta is strongly appealing to the public to dispose of plastic waste in the appropriate way and not dump it around, as it will tend to end up in the sea. Furthermore, people should immediately reduce the use of single-use plastics, even those that are still in the market."

The Maltese Government has halted the import of single-use plastics as of 1 January 2021.

"Although this is a step in the right direction and to be commended, this alone will not solve the issue of the marine plastic debris which is every year ending up in the stomach of thousands of marine animals, either killing them outright or causing them to wither away in extreme suffering. In the case of fish that people consume, micro-plastics are now ending up in our plates and system too. Humans are now poisoning themselves."

The eNGO also appealed to fishermen to try and recover lost fishing gear, and to avoid using nylon nets that are the cause of death of so many turtles in the Mediterranean.

It also called upon the Prime Minister, who has stated that during his legislation that more attention will be given to the environment, to make an effort to promote more sustainable methods of fishing, so as to help save hundreds of marine animals that will otherwise lose their lives in our outwardly clean and healthy Maltese waters. More action by the government is also called for to reduce marine debris, it said.

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