Sunday, 5 February 2023
According to the bi-communal Marine Waste Cyprus Project (MarLitCy) database, 80 percent of waste material found on the beaches is of local origin, Yeniduzen reports.
The majority of waste is made of plastic bottles which have been dumped on the beaches or in stream beds, however, there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of plastic bags present. The most dangerous waste material is microplastic measuring between 1-2 mm.
The bi-communal waste measuring project, supported by the EU has since 2014, recorded a 5 percent increase in the amount of waste from onshore.
Speaking to a TAK new agency reporter about a project carried out by the Famagusta Suriçi Association (MASDER) and the Northern Cyprus Diving Centres Association, MASDER President Serdar Atai stated that the project was launched to draw attention to the pollution on the beaches. Rubbish has been collected at regular intervals on nine beaches in North Cyprus. The first phase of which began in 2014 and the second phase in 2019, Atai said that the project has now ended, but they continue monitoring as independent associations.
Data and analyses related to the project, in which studies were carried out at 11 locations in the south of Cyprus, can be accessed at www.marlitcy.eu.
Serdar Atai, said that the waste material from Arabic countries is very worn and has begun to crumble. Noting that they detected an increase of 5 percent in the amount of garbage compared to the day the project started, Atai said that a decrease was observed in the waste coming from the sea, and the reason for this was the measures taken by Arabic countries on the beaches where rubbish, mostly plastic bottles and pet bottle caps were dumped.
He said that the cap rings are dangerous because small fish can get inside the plastic cap rings and then remain trapped.
Atai noted that the biggest danger of plastic bags is that turtles mistake the bags for jellyfish and try to eat them.
Microplastics are the most difficult to remove because they are so small. “These are the most dangerous because the fish mistake it for fish eggs and swallow it“, he said.
Atai pointed out that on some beaches, people are sunbathing in microplastics.
Deterrents for Polluting the Environment
“The solution is punishment. Environmental police are a must“, he said.
“The river beds need to be cleaned, there are people who even throw their refrigerators into the river bed. We also gave training in schools, but the solution to this is punishment. Penalties for polluting the environment should be updated and a monitoring mechanism should be established”, said Atai.
Environmental police teams could be formed within municipalities, Atai said. The officers should be able to impose fines on the spot. These incidents should be recorded and collected as data to be shared.
Noting that there are private companies that have started to collect garbage with economic value, this is a good development, but it needs to be coordinated, Atai said that the Environmental Protection Agency should assign waste collection areas to these companies. He also emphasised that there should be rules about the storage of collected waste.
Serdar Atai said that the lack of waste bins on the beaches is also a factor in the increase in discarded rubbish.
South Cyprus is one step ahead compared to North Cyprus, Atai said. This is because of EU regulations enforced in the south. The EU occasionally sends external auditors to inspect Greek Cypriot municipalities.
The EU’s philosophy on environmental cleaning is “rejecting garbage”, “reducing”, “reusing”, “upcycling (using the material to be thrown in the garbage for a different purpose)” and, as a last resort, “recycling”, Atai said.