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Department of Environment marks World Oceans Day

‘Star’ keep plastic off the beaches After the success of ‘Bubbles’ at Eastern Beach, the Department of the Environment & Climate Change has introduced ‘Star’, the “environmentally friendly, plastic-eating, aquatic mammal” that will reside at Camp Bay. Like ‘Bubbles’, ‘Star’ aims to encourage beach users to recycle plastic, while helping to keep beaches and the sea free from plastic contamination. ‘Star’ is a metallic frame structure, four metres by two metres in size, which is being deployed at Camp Bay today, on World Oceans Day, as the ideal receptacle for all plastic items. Beach users are encouraged to dispose of these in an environmentally friendly fashion. ‘Star’ can be easily emptied once full in order to start receiving plastics items again; its contents designated for recycling. The aim is to continue to raise public awareness, regarding the dangers of plastic contamination in our marine environment. “This campaign is conducted as a general public initiative and we, therefore, encourage everyone to actively participate. Please try not to use disposable plastic, but if you do, please feed plastic to ‘Star’,” the department said in a statement.

The Gibraltar Government yesterday marked World Oceans Day, a global movement that calls on world leaders to protect 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030.

The World Ocean Day campaign is called 30x30 and the Government said Gibraltar has “already designated 63% of its territorial waters as a Marine Protected Area”, known as the Southern Waters of Gibraltar MPA, within which there are highly protected no fishing zones.

The Department of the Environment has typically celebrated World Oceans Day at Rosia Bay, together with non-governmental organisations, in order to raise awareness on marine conservation and highlight the importance of protecting Gibraltar’s coastal environment.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has prevented the Department from reaching out to the public in the field, work on monitoring the marine environment has continued in earnest.

“Recent sightings of fin whales migrating through British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW), as well as large pods of the highly intelligent bottlenose dolphin, have undoubtedly helped raise awareness on the global importance of Gibraltar’s Southern Waters MPA for cetaceans and also for a variety of marine wildlife such as turtles, sunfish, sharks and seabirds,” the Government said.

“These sightings also provide context to the existing conservation measures in place within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters such as the prohibition on the use of fishing nets that are a known threat to marine animals.”

“With increasing calls to extend highly protected marine areas in the Mediterranean, the Department will continue to research and monitor the wealth of marine biodiversity found in BGTW using innovative techniques to help ensure that our waters are internationally recognised as an important marine biodiversity hotspot requiring strict conservation measures.”