It's ugly and dangerous, and in coastal Louisiana it's everywhere,
spilling into bayous and lakes, lining roadways, and scattered
over beaches. Bottles and cans, bags and boxes, old tires
and tennis shoes – an accumulation of trash that offends
the eye, creates economic disaster for mariners, kills or
cripples marine animals, endangers human health, and inspires
such barbs as –“Louisiana, the litter state.”
the Atchafalaya basin, a dead egret is found dangling from
a tree, strangled by a discarded fishing line.
- A Gulf
fisherman spends hundreds of dollars to repair damage to
his vessel's engine which overheated when a floating plastic
bag clogged the water intake.
Fourchon beach, a six-year-old child cuts his foot on a
broken bottle and requires ten stitches and a tetanus shot,
asked their opinion of coastal Louisiana, a touring French
Canadian couple says that it is a beautiful state –
after dark, “But in the daylight – oh, so much
Hundreds of marine animals, including porpoises, whales, dolphins,
seals, sea turtles, and birds, die every year from eating
plastic garbage that they mistake for food. Thousands die
each year because they become entangled in discarded plastic
fishing nets, fishing line, and six-pack yokes. An estimated
14 billion pounds of litter, much of it plastic, is dumped
at sea every year by commercial shipping and fishing vessels,
offshore petroleum platforms, naval operations, and recreational
boaters. Not only is litter a hazard to marine animal life
and people, but it limits the attraction of coastal areas
for tourism – a real economic loss to coastal states.
and metal debris in the ocean is far slower to decompose than
other kinds of litter. It has been estimated, for example,
that a six-pack yoke can last in the marine environment over
400 years and that a discarded aluminum can or tab takes from
100 to 500 years to disintegrate.
CAN YOU DO ABOUT LITTER?
as few plastic and metal products as possible onboard vessels
and to the beach. Use bulk containers for drinks to reduce
the number of cans and bottles you carry. Do not throw any
trash overboard and be careful that nothing plastic falls
into the water.
there are no trash receptacles on the beach where you are
picnicking, take your utensils and other debris home for
disposal. If possible take aluminum drink cans to a recycling
fishing, do not discard any pieces of torn net, broken fishing
line, or plastic bait bags in the water. Dispose of worn
out fishing gear onshore.
throw anything out of a car. Besides being unsightly, litter
on inland roads can make its way to the ocean and beaches
via winds, streams, and rivers.
any civic and social groups of which you may be a member
from using mass helium balloon releases to celebrate events.
Millions of latex balloons have found their way to the oceans
and into the stomachs of marine animals.
and support all community efforts to eliminate litter. Participate
in beach cleanups, volunteer to work in public education
campaigns, and support the installation and use of trash
cans on beaches and at marinas.