The Society of Wilderness (SOW), a civic group dedicated to the protection of Taiwan’s environment, is calling on the public to take part in a series of coastal cleanup activities to be staged around the country starting this weekend.
Environmentalists in 152 countries and areas, including Taiwan, plan to hold similar coastal cleanup events on tomorrow to mark International Coastal Clean-up Day and protect marine biodiversity, the SOW said in a statement.
Each year, an estimated 200,000 young albatrosses on the Midway Islands in the Central Pacific die as a result of marine pollution, the statement said.
Citing the findings of site surveys, the SOW said that many young albatrosses die after eating plastic trash washed up on the beaches of the Midway Islands. Studies show that a mere 20g of plastic waste can be fatal to juvenile seabirds, it added.
According to the SOW, Shigeru Fujieda, a professor at Kagoshima University in Japan, once examined the corpses of 1,400 albatrosses that had died from eating plastic cigarette lighters.
The study shows that 48 percent of the discarded lighters came from Japan and 14 percent from Taiwan.
The findings indicate that plastic trash not only threatens Taiwan’s environment but also endangers wildlife in the entire Pacific Ocean and its islands, the SOW said.
Apart from albatrosses, many other forms of marine life such as fish, dolphins and sea turtles die after consuming plastic pollution, the organization said.
From 2005 through last year, discarded plastic bottles picked up during annual ICC Day activities could create a 4,281m high pile — 8.4 times the height of the Taipei 101 building, the SOW said.
It urged local people to avoid using disposable plastic products to help reduce plastic consumption.
In addition to plastic trash, large quantities of cigarette butts, glass bottles, glow sticks, lightbulbs, styrofoam and colored pens are also common sources of marine pollution, the SOW said.
From Saturday, the SOW plans to organize 25 coastal cleanup events. SOW Secretary-General Jenner Lin (林金保) said that 7,000 volunteers from 45 businesses and social groups have been invited to help clean up 60km of the country’s coastline. Anyone else who is interested in taking part is welcome, he added.
More information on the activity can be found at http://icc2012.sow.org.tw