Anthropogenic debris in an Antarctic Specially Protected Area in the maritime Antarctic
Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs) provide the strongest environmental protection in Antarctica. However, they are not immune from anthropogenic pollution of marine or terrestrial origin. We document anthropogenic debris within ASPA No. 133 Harmony Point, Nelson Island, recovering 1544 items between November 2019 and January 2020. The majority (82.6 %) were found close to a national operator-constructed refuge and were smaller than 5 cm. Larger items (up to 300 cm) were present on beaches and plateaus. Charcoal and rubber were the most abundant items around the refuge and plastic and metal were the most abundant items on beaches and plateaus. Debris items likely arriving in the area by marine transportation (e.g. plastic) are of concern due to both risk of ingestion and their degradation leading to the release of hazardous chemicals. Such pollution contravenes the terms of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty and other regionally applicable regulations.
Authors: Finger, Júlia Victória Grohmann, Corá, Denyelle Hennayra, Convey, Peter ORCID record for Peter Convey, Cruz, Francisco Santa, Petry, Maria Virginia, Krüger, Lucas