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Seas and Oceans: Pollution

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 15th October 2012.

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Photo of Lindsay Roy Lindsay Roy Labour, Glenrothes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effects on the marine and coastal environment of plastics that have been dumped at sea.

Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Charting Progress 2 (CP2), the 2010 comprehensive report on the state of UK seas, summarises the information available on the sources and effects of litter, including plastics. Around 15% of UK beach litter, including lost fishing gear and litter from containers lost at sea, is thought to originate at sea from fishing and shipping. The effects of plastic litter can include harm to wildlife from entanglement or ingestion of plastics.

Since 2010, DEFRA and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS), the Government's foremost source of evidence on the marine environment, have continued work to improve understanding of marine litter. This includes a current research project that has updated some information in CP2 and aims to develop a standardised UK monitoring programme. CEFAS is also contributing to MARLISCO (Marine Litter in Europe Seas: Social Awareness and Co-responsibility), an EU research programme on societal changes on litter and it will be taking part in an EU project on effects and distributions of micro plastics.

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