REPORT ON BIRDLIFE OVERBERG COASTAL CLEANUP ON 31 AUGUST 2019
Posted on the 4th September 2019
The BirdLife Overberg coastal cleanup team once again worked the eastern shoreline of the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve on Saturday 31 August. They started from Brekvisbaai in Vermont and worked westwards towards the first bay that we aptly named “Tern Bay”.
Let us just give context: These monthly cleanups form part of BirdLife Overberg’s broader CleanMarine campaign on the conservation of the Overstrand coastline and estuaries. The other projects are the identification of key breeding sites for African Black Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers and regular bird counts along the estuaries in the region. Fishing line and cigarette butt bins will also be installed at key spots along our coast. Several environmental education initiatives are being undertaken.
The cleanup was interesting and very rewarding. They worked in twos or threes with one marking off the litter items collected. This is done on the standard form developed by the Oceans Conservancy, an international agency based in America. The information will be forwarded to them, as well as Plastics SA. This is done to gain a better world-wide understanding of the negative impact of plastics on our oceans. We thank John Kieser of Plastics SA for once again providing the plastic bags.
We hereby only provide a brief summary of some of the litter collected. On the positive side there had been a significant reduction in the amount of plastic straws and pieces of fishing line compared to when we first cleaned this area in October 2017. The reduction in fishing line can be ascribed to the regular cleanups of the area and the media campaigns that we launched in support of the rolling out of fishing line bins along the Overstrand coastline. We had found a marked reduction in the number of plastic straws at all the areas that are cleaned since the campaign that was run as part of the Plastics Free July campaign in 2018. It seems as if the vast majority of owners of shops and other outlets in our region are now supporting the move away from plastic straws and this is really encouraging.
Ready for action
What we think is a Cross-marked Grass Snake
Large amounts of plastic bottle caps, plastic beverage bottles, lollypop sticks and small pieces of plastic were however still collected. This is consistent with findings from other parts of the world and these items appear to be a problem everywhere. One wonders what can be done to change consumer behaviour in this regard.
We speculated that several other items collected in significant numbers could be related directly to abalone poaching. Several “dikidiki lights” that are used to dive at night, flippers and a wet suite and an astonishing amount of condoms and condom wrappers were picked up. The poachers apparently use condoms to protect their cell phones when they enter the sea. Maybe one should consider negotiating with the poachers about their littering behaviour???
The team hard at work
Coastal clean-up managers Hele and Elaine on the rocks
The general feeling however was one of optimism and that we are gradually getting somewhere. Regular coastal cleanups are certainly making a difference to the huge problem of plastics polluting our oceans.
Remember to support the massive Overstrand-wide cleanup to be done during International Coastal Cleanup Week between 16 and 21 September. Also come and listen to what John Kieser of Plastics SA has to say about plastics in our oceans at BirdLife Overberg’s monthly talk on 9 September. Find details on both of these events at this link:
Contact Elaine at firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 455 8402 to volunteer your support.
(These images were taken during a previous coastal cleanup in October 2018 along the beautiful Hoek van de Berg Nature coastline)