Apostolos Korakas, President of HYCA (Hellenic Yacht Crew Association)
I have been cruising with yachts in Greece and the Med for the last 15 years. Every year, every new season, I notice that the sea life is getting less and less. I notice an increase in litter on the beaches and in the sea.The time to take action is now. Ηumanity can’t just keep its eyes closed to the huge problem of marine litter.
Marine litter can be defined as any persistent manufactured or processed solid material that is discarded, disposed of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment. It gets into the water by intentional or accidental discharges, it can be blown by winds or washed out by rivers and storm drains. It may be visible (macrolitter), hardly visible or even invisible to the naked eye (microlitter).
WHY IS MARINE LITTER A PROBLEM?
• It is a threat to wildlife and ecosystems.
Litter items kill or cause suffering to marine mammals, reptiles, fish and seabirds that are trapped in them or may mistake them for food. • It is a threat to human health and life.
Litter in the sea and on beaches can cause serious injuries and damage. • It can cause bioaccumulation of pollutants and toxins. Any toxins leaching from litter items may build up in an organism, or pass from one organism to another through the food chain.
• It travels long distances.
Travelling with sea currents, waves, winds and runoff, it can be found in places very far from its source. Often species from distant locations “hitchhike” on litter items and may disrupt the balance of native species ecosystems.
WHERE IS MARINE LITTER?
Marine litter is found in all seas and coasts around the world… lying on shores… floating anywhere from the surface to the bottom of the sea… even in the most pristine environments far away from any human settlements, such as the Arctic, Antarc- tic and in the middle of the ocean.
We all need to start taking care of our planet. There are many ways to do that, please commit yourself and the difference will be immediately visible.
I minimise consumption in order to minimise my waste.
I reuse products whenever possible.
I recycle as much as possible. Bottles, cans, cell phones, ink cartridges, and many other items can be recycled!
I am responsible for what I dispose of and how.
I remember, no matter where I am, that land and sea are connected.
I don’t throw litter anywhere except in the proper bins. I never throw trash in the street, on the banks of rivers or directly in the sea.
I avoid “single use” disposable cups, plates and utensils.
I avoid using plastic bags; I prefer reusable bags instead.
Before going to the beach I think of the packaging I carry and how to minimise my waste.
I refuse to buy items with excess packaging.
I prefer a single product in a larger size than many smaller units of the same product.
When outdoors I carry and store my lunch in non-dispos- able containers.
I prefer items made from recycled material.
I prefer clothes and fabrics made of natural fibres be- cause synthetic ones degrade into microplastics.
When outside, if there are no bins around I take my trash with me.
I never release balloons as they soon after become litter on land and sea.
I practice water activities, fishing, yachting and sports responsibly.
I support environmentally responsible marinas.
I respect the efforts of street cleaners and public ser- vices.
I serve as an example to others. I encourage my friends and family to help keep our beaches and oceans clean.
I take part in beach and other clean-ups.
I unite forces! Effectiveness is multiplied when organised in groups.
Helmepa will host an online seminar for eco friendly yachting and sustainability in shipping. “www.helmepa.gr” also organizes beach clean-ups.