Giant ‘island’ of plastic rubbish forms in sea off Corsica

A floating “island” of plastic rubbish several dozen kilometres long has formed off the coast of the French island of Corsica.

Giant 'island' of plastic rubbish forms in sea off Corsica
Pollution has long been a blight on the Corsican coastlie. Photo: AFP

The cluster is currently located between Corsica and Elba, the Italian island perhaps best known for hosting the exiled French Emperor Napoleon.

The tonnes of plastic were carried there by currents in the Mediterranean that bore the rubbish north and then deposited it between the two islands, local media reported.

“The risk is that if there are poor meteorological conditions, for example a northeasterly wind in the summer, we will see a massive arrival (of the plastic) on the Corsican coast,” said François Galgani of the Corsican branch of the French maritime research institute IFREMER.

He told France Bleu radio that, due to the local currents, concentrations of plastic were often to be found in the same spot where the “island” is currently located.

READ ALSO: Mediterranean could become a 'sea of plastic', warns WWF

Galgani said that unlike the giant plastic clusters that form in the Pacific or in the Atlantic, the one off Corsica was a “temporary accumulation zone” that would last anything from a few days to a maximum of three months.

An estimated eight million tonnes of plastics enter the world’s oceans every year, polluting the waters and endangering species which ingest it.

The dump of plastic waste swirling in the Pacific Ocean is bigger than France, Germany and Spain combined and is growing rapidly, a study warned last year.

Researchers based in the Netherlands used a fleet of boats and aircraft to scan the immense accumulation of bottles, containers, fishing nets and microparticles known as the “Great Pacific garbage patch” (GPGP) and found an astonishing build-up of plastic waste.

Microplastics, tiny fragments of plastic smaller than 5mm in size that make up the vast majority of items in the GPGP, can enter the food chain when swallowed by fish.

The pollutants they contain become more concentrated as they work their way up through the food web, all the way to top-level predators such as sharks, seals and polar bears.



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Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.