Remote Pacific Island residents fed up with plastic trash washing up on their beaches

A dead turtle found tangled in a discarded net on Henderson Island.
Pawl Warren

A dead turtle found tangled in a discarded net on Henderson Island.

The plastic plague has struck another isolated Pacific island, frustrating locals and highlighting the scale of the issue created by non-biodegradable plastics.

Complaints from Adamstown, the capital of the Pitcairn Islands, follow news in May that neighbouring Henderson Island had approximately 38 million pieces of trash washed up on its shores, despite being uninhabited and isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 

Melva Evans, editor of Pitcairn Island's monthly newsletter, The Miscellany, who also works at the island's tourism department, said: "We are just horrified about the situation, and this seems to have grown exponentially in the last few years."

Flotsam and Jetsam washed to the top of the high-tide mark on East Beach, Henderson Island.
Pawl Warren

Flotsam and Jetsam washed to the top of the high-tide mark on East Beach, Henderson Island.

There was a feeling of helplessness, she said, with almost all of the rubbish washing on to Henderson and Pitcairn coming from polluters abroad.

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"We don't get nearly as much as collects on Henderson Island, from the evidence that has been brought back to us, but we do get quite a lot of litter."

The Pitcairn Islands group includes the uninhabited Henderson Island, about 200 kilometres from Pitcairn.
LONELY PLANET

The Pitcairn Islands group includes the uninhabited Henderson Island, about 200 kilometres from Pitcairn.

Henderson Island, which is part of the Pitcairn Islands group, is roughly 200 kilometres northeast of Pitcairn, and Evans said residents were limited in how much they could help the situation on their uninhabited neighbour. 

"Our resources are very limited, and we don't go up there very often as it is."

Her words come as pressure mounts on New Zealand's government to impose a plastic bag levy, with the mayors of three of the biggest cities launching a campaign for a mandatory levy on all single-use plastic bags.

Melva Evans, from Pitcairn, said: "We don't do that [use plastic shopping bags], we take baskets along."
SUPPLIED

Melva Evans, from Pitcairn, said: "We don't do that [use plastic shopping bags], we take baskets along."

Evans said she would welcome such a levy, as well as any other action to reduce the amount of plastic used around the globe.

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"It's not used here, not like out there in your part of the world, where you go to the supermarket and you come home with three or four bags of groceries. We don't do that, we take baskets along."

She said expeditions to other islands had come across birds that had died as a result of eating plastic or become caught in discarded netting.

East Beach on Henderson Island covered with plastic washed up from the sea.
PAWL WARREN

East Beach on Henderson Island covered with plastic washed up from the sea.

 - Stuff

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