Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Divers fish 260 kilograms of waste from Mina Zayed port

Dirty haul highlights the problem with single-use plastics, say divers

Divers have cleaned up a staggering 260 kilograms of rubbish from Abu Dhabi’s ocean floor.

In less than an hour, a crew of 20 volunteers collected nearly 300 aluminium cans, more than 160 plastic bags and around 120 glass bottles from dhow harbour near Mina Zayed port.

“The main culprits we had were single-use plastics, like water bottles and plastic bags, as well as aluminium cans,” said Kathleen Russell, an organiser of the dive and owner of Al Mahara Diving Center in the capital. “There’s not much surface debris but it’s there, underwater.”

On Saturday, kayakers and swimmers helped shuttle the rubbish on to a boat where it was sorted by Tadweer, the Abu Dhabi waste management organisation.

The clean-up was part of Dive Against Debris by Project Aware — a global marine conservation group — and the litter will be registered as part of a global map of underwater rubbish.

It will be the last underwater clean-up in Abu Dhabi until waters cool in September.

The dive was organised with help from the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, Emirates Diving Association, Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority and Abu Dhabi Fishermen Co-operation Society.

The day highlighted the growing problem of single-use plastic. Divers also spotted deceased wildlife near the water’s surface, including a sea turtle, a puffer fish, a cuttlefish and a lizard fish.

According to the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, the average UAE resident uses more than three plastic bags a day, nearly triple the global average.

Despite this, recent surveys indicate wide public support for a ban on single-use plastic.

"We’re still seeing a lot single-use plastics, especially plastic bags and water bottles," said Ms Russell, who has done underwater clean-ups since the late 1990s.

"But I think there’s a much bigger movement against single-use plastic this year and I’m hoping this will lead to a change.”

Updated: June 17, 2019 06:59 PM

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