Entanglement and other plastic debris on Alaskan beaches, 1990-92
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Entanglement and other plastic debris on Alaskan beaches, 1990-92

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    Beaches in the Gulf of Alaska were monitored from 1990 to l992 for deposition rate, trends in abundance, and sources and rate of entanglement debris and other plastics that washed ashore. This study was a continuation of Alaskan beach surveys conducted pe-riodically since 1972. Eight beaches near Yakutat were surveyed usually in March and September 1990-92; seven beaches on Kaylk Island once in A,rgrst 1991; and six beaches on Middleton Island once in July 1992. Entanglement debris, especially rope and trawl web, continued to decline on most beaches. Rope declined about 25% at both Yakutat (1990-92) and Middleton Island (1989-92). Deposition rate (3.8 pieces/km of beach/year) of trawl web near Yakutat n 1992 was the lowest observed since 1985. Plastic items washed ashore were similar at all locations and most (49-65%) were from fishing vessels. Bottles, gill-net floats, and caps/lids accounted for about 75% of all plastics. In 1992, gill-net floats increased l0-fold on beaches near Yakutat but did not increase on other study beaches. El Nino conditions in l99l-92 may have influenced surface currents in the North Pacific Ocean, resulting in greater deposition of debris near Yakutat. Plastics remained ashore near Yakutat for several months; 40% of gill-net floats painted in April 1992 were recovered in September 1992. C-auntry of manufacture of bottles indicates that the sources of many plastics washed ashore are the United States and Asia. Beach surveys continue to provide valuable information on the effectiveness of MARPOL Annex V to reduce disposal of plastics at sea.
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