Study Finds Fishermen Responsible for Most Marine Litter in Nature’s Valley, South Africa

Nature’s Valley is home to one of the most beautiful beaches along the South African coastline, and the Nature’s Valley Trust (NVT) is working hard to keep it that way.

Nature’s Valley is home to one of the most beautiful beaches along the South African coastline, and the Nature’s Valley Trust (NVT) is working hard to keep it that way. Marine debris is increasingly a major environmental threat to the world’s oceans, not only because it’s polluting the planet, but also because marine debris is harming animal life.

Despite the fact that plastics take over a thousand years to decay, more than 8 million tons are carelessly dumped into the ocean each year, consequently killing over 1.5 million marine animals annually. Whether it was due to the fact that the debris destroyed their habitat, entangled them, or whether it was a result of mistakenly ingested toxins, marine debris is a growing problem threatening life.

However, it is important to remember that marine debris is preventable; that there’s still time to take action and save our ocean. It’s as easy as opting for a refillable water bottle over a plastic one, bringing reusable shopping bags, or even joining a costal clean up similar to the ones Nature’s Valley Trust frequently leads. In order to raise awareness about the importance of properly discarding litter, NVT strives to implement several environmental educational resources in coordination with ecological research to resolve the growing marine debris problem along the coast. In particular, NVT’s marine debris project monitors the impact of beach goers on the coast in terms of marine debris and other litter. Coordinates of both beach visitors, and their litter are documented in order to accurately determine who are the main beach users, as well as the proportion of litter each type of visitor left behind.

Data from a six-month study, conducted by Dutch intern Robin Fokker, indicates that 44% of the beach users are picnickers, followed by 35% of beach walkers, and 10% of fishermen. Whereas 39% of the marine debris documented on the beach was predominantly fishing related, this proportion did not include the popular litter items found worldwide, such as cigarette butts, food wrappers, and plastic bottles. This is interesting enough due to the fact that fisherman contribute 39% of the litter along the coast but only make up 10% of the beach users, and that’s without their food and beverage litter!

Seeing as most of the litter found along the coast was fishing related, NVT has installed fisherman’s bins at several beach entrances in Nature’s Valley. Every month the contents of the bins are recorded with the intent to establish the ecological impact on marine resources. Coupled with practical solutions and high quality ongoing research, are NVT’s conservation education programs, which includes Adopt-a-Beach programs for local schools (where grade 7 students are exposed to 7 hands on lessons around beach ecology and conservation throughout the year), providing educational resource packs to recreational fisherman, and raising awareness of beach litter issues in general. The marine debris project is only one of Nature’s Valley Trust’s many initiatives to help protect the beautiful environment that Nature’s Valley is world renowned for.

To view the Creative Commons license for the featured image, click here.

Source: Nature's Valley Trust/Zoe Dillman, Conservation Intern

For original story, visit us at: