British fulmars confirm decrease in plastic debris

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British fulmars confirm decrease in plastic debris

Published on
October 9, 2020

Monitoring of plastics in stomach of fulmars in the United Kingdom is coordinated by Wageningen Marine Research. This work implies close cooperation with many investigators from England and Scotland, including the Orkney and Shetland Islands. The cooperation has been running since 2002, when the international Save the North Sea campaign (SNS) started.

Daniel Turner, coordinator of the beached bird survey and SNS fulmar project in Northeast England, analyses fulmar stomach contents.
Daniel Turner, coordinator of the beached bird survey and SNS fulmar project in Northeast England, analyses fulmar stomach contents.

Decrease

The long-term study shows a decrease in the quantity of plastics found in the stomachs of beached fulmars from the British side of the North Sea. In the Netherlands, such a decrease is observed with statistical significance. In the UK, the decrease is just not significant because of smaller sample sizes and local variations.  But the similarity in the pattern is evident. The North Sea policy target is that a maximum of 10% of beached fulmars may have 0.1g or more plastic in the stomach. To comply with such a target, lines in the graph shown should go under that of the horizontal red line. There is still a lot of work to do.

Comparable decrease of plastics in stomachs of British and Dutch fulmars. In the long term target, the lines should go down to go below the horizontal red line.
Comparable decrease of plastics in stomachs of British and Dutch fulmars. In the long term target, the lines should go down to go below the horizontal red line.

Images say more than words

Graphs and statistical analyses are important, but images of plastics in stomach can clarify the story. The attached ‘finders’ document gives information on all birds analysed during a workshop early 2020, with photographs of plastics in the stomachs. Download this document from here.

The Finders Report
The Finders Report