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Dead whale washes up in Indonesia with 6kg of plastic in its stomach

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Image credit: WWF-Indonesia / Kartika Sumolang

A dead sperm whale that has washed ashore off the coast of Indonesia has found to have 6 kilograms (kg) of plastic in its stomach.

Items found in the whale’s stomach included; 115 plastic cups, four plastic cups, 25 plastic bags with one reported to contain 1,000 pieces of string, and two flip flops.

Although it is unlikely that any of these items have come directly from Wales, the devastating images are a wake-up call to all of us to reduce our consumption of plastics.

In 2011, Wales became the first nation in the UK to levy a 5p charge on plastic bags.  A report commissioned by the Welsh Government five years after this introduction, reported that plastic bag consumption had reduced by 70% in Wales. Although this is a fantastic start, this only impacts one of many single-use plastics.

Speaking to Wales247, Anne Meikle, Director of WWF Cymru agrees more should be done:

“Plastic is choking our oceans and killing wildlife. Wales has shown real leadership and ambition on tackling plastics – leading the UK with the carrier bag charge and on recycling rates. Right now, if we’re to make a real difference to Wales’s plastic waste, we need to see the same leadership and ambition in tackling our single-use/disposable plastics in Wales. We’re calling for a UK ban on all avoidable single-use plastic by 2025. We’d like to see Welsh Government lead the way and push the UK forward on this agenda.”

As these recent images prove, plastics are plaguing our oceans and marine life.

The whale in Indonesia was too badly decomposed to conclusively determine if the plastic objects played a part in its death, however  it certainly wouldn’t have been good for the mammal.

Indonesia may be thousands of miles from Wales, but we too have a precious coastline that needs protecting.

We are very lucky to have 870-miles of coastal path open to the public, so it’s vital if we are to preserve this for future generations, we need to take steps at home to cut plastic consumption, not only to protect our own coastline, but the world’s coastline too.

Jess McQuade, Head of Policy, WWF Cymru added:

“The Well-being of Future Generations Act – which is unique to Wales – requires Welsh Government to consider our future global impacts on people and nature. The damage plastic is doing to our oceans, the impact it has on our communities now – and even more so in the future if we don’t see urgent action – means tackling plastics waste is core to the purpose of the Act.”

Natural Resources Wales is the Welsh Government sponsored body responsible for pursuing sustainable management of natural resources and “apply the principles of sustainable management of natural resources” as stated in the Environment (Wales) Act 2016. Their website has a wealth of information and advice available covering all aspects from forestry, air quality and waste management.

Rebecca Favager, Waste Strategy Manager for Natural Resources Wales, said:

“Marine litter is a global environmental, economic, human health and aesthetic problem, which poses a threat to marine ecosystems and can have potentially significant economic impacts on tourism, recreational activities and other marine industries.

“We all need to take steps to eliminate avoidable waste and manage our limited resources in a better way, which is good for the people, economy and the environment.”

It will take many years to implement waste management practices that will make the differences needed, and although efforts so far may appear to be a ‘drop in the ocean’, Wales is progressing with steps to get this on the national agenda.

Consumers can also make a difference by voting with their feet and making every effort to reduce consumption of single-use plastics.

Rhys Gregory
Editor of Wales247.co.uk

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