Friday, 31 October 2014

Careless And Improper Disposal Of Plastic Bags A Danger To Water Birds

RSPB Scotland has spoken out to urge people to take extra care when disposing of their plastic bags. The appeal came after a visitor to a Loch in North Uist, Western Isles, photographed a Red-Throated Diver with a plastic bag in it's beak.

The Red-Throated Diver is the smaller of the two breeding divers in the U.K, occurring on large bodies of water in Scotland. The bird has grey-brown plumage, and an up-tilted bill that makes it distinguishable from it's Black-Throated counterpart.

Jamie Boyle, site manager of the RSPB’s Uist reserves, said, “We urge people to take great care in the way they dispose of plastic bags or, indeed, any other rubbish, particularly balloons and Chinese lanterns. They pose a direct threat to our wildlife and it is depressing to think that plastic bags are even reaching remote lochans in a place like North Uist.
“Marine birds such as red-throated divers are particularly at risk both at sea and on their breeding grounds where they can mistake the bags for fish or mistakenly use it for nesting material. If it becomes entangled on their legs or heads it can prove fatal.”

 RSPB Scotland welcomed the Scottish Parliament's approval earlier this year of new regulations that will introduce a compulsory charge for single-use carrier bags. The 5p charge, applying to all retailers from October this year, will aim to reduce use of single-use carrier bags by 80%. The charge will apply to most single-use carrier bags (excluding some types of bag such as paper bags for prescriptions, and also 'bags for life') and is mainly aimed at tackling plastic bag usage. In Scotland, around 740m carrier bags were used in 2011 - or around 12 bags per person per month. A similar charge introduced in Wales in 2011 has led to a massive reduction in the use of plastic bags, and also generated significant funds for good causes. Scottish Regulations will be followed by a similar voluntary agreement between retailers to donate money raised to good causes, including schemes to tackle litter prevention.

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