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Cigarette butts pose a risk to beach ecosystems, say Thailand government officials. Photograph: Dean Lewins/EPA

Those caught lighting up could face a year’s imprisonment as the government seeks to end pollution and drain damage on Thai beaches caused by discarded cigarette butts

Thailand is to ban smoking on some of the country’s most popular tourist beaches, with the prospect of up to a year in prison for those caught lighting up, according to reports by local media.

The move follows a recent survey of litter on Patong beach, Phuket – visited by millions of foreign tourists each year – which found an average of 0.76 cigarette butts per square metre in a sample area, which would amount to 101,058 butts on the 2.5km-long stretch of sand.

The survey was undertaken by the country’s department of marine and coastal resources, which described it as a “serious problem”. Discarded cigarette butts accounted for a third of rubbish collected by the department.

Read the full article on Thailand’s plan to ban smoking on some of the country’s most popular tourist beaches here.

By Will Coldwell for The Guardian.

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Credit: Shutterstock

 

There’s a big lie about plastic — that you can throw it away. But that’s not true; there is no “away.”

Plastic bottles, plastic bags, snack wrappers, foam takeout containers, foam coffee cups, packing materials: these common, everyday items make up 85% of our waste stream. These items aren’t biodegradable and our ability to recycle them is limited.

 

This societal reliance on throw-away plastic is strangling our environment — particularly our waterways.

More than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans each year, where it kills animals and fouls waterways and beaches. This isn’t the work of careless litterbugs at the beach. Over 80% of ocean plastic comes from land-based sources. Even if you live inland and take care to properly dispose of your trash, there is a good chance some of your plastic waste has found its way to the sea.

 

Consider the American Great Lakes, where 80% of the litter along the shorelines is plastic. That trash doesn’t stay put — it flows through the canals and river systems through the St. Lawrence Seaway and into the Atlantic Ocean. A takeout container that blows off a Chicago landfill can wind up off the coast of Africa.

From there, the damage gets far worse. Once in the ocean, plastic eventually breaks into micro-particles that cause toxins to enter the food chain.

A single discarded piece of plastic breaks down into millions — and these bits are mistaken for food and ingested by even the smallest organisms on the oceanic food chain. Contaminated zooplankton feed on phytoplankton, which are fed on by small fish, who are fed on by squid — and so it goes on up to our dinner plates.

 

Read the full article here.

 

By Julie Anderson from Los Angeles Time

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Africa

The Africa continent is increasingly becoming a desired destination for millions of world-class travelers, who enjoy the white sandy beaches, wildlife safaris, and cultural tours in every region of Africa.

Some 55.7 million international visitors traveled to Africa in 2013, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Amini Kajunju Read more.

The beach is generally recognised as the most important recreation amenity in the region for Gold Coast residents, as well as tourists. However, there is very little data to support the role that this amenity plays in the life of Gold Coast residents. This survey set out to collect data from Gold Coast residents regarding their beach use and the values they associate with the beach, and to develop estimates of the economic value of the beach to residents.

by Mike Raybould and Neil Lazarow

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Economic and Social Values of Beach Recreation on the Gold Coast

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