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what we learn about “mermaid’s tears”, these plastic balls that wash up on our seashores

Hundreds and hundreds of “mermaid’s tears”, industrial plastic pellets, have been found in current weeks on the seashores of Finistère, Vendée after which Loire-Atlantique. The NGO Surfrider is thus calling for citizen mobilization this weekend on the coasts involved. A number of complaints in opposition to X have already been filed. We take inventory of this air pollution “unprecedented” in its magnitude relying on the group.

“Unprecedented” air pollution on the Atlantic coast

Three episodes of air pollution have been noticed because the starting of December. Audierne Bay, in Finistère, was first affected by the huge arrival of those plastic balls. Identical factor a fortnight in the past in Vendée, in Les Sables-d’Olonne particularly. Then the air pollution hit the Loire-Atlantique coast on the finish of final week, in La Bernerie-en-Retz, Pornic and even Saint-Brévin-les-Pins.

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In keeping with the pinnacle of the NGO Surfrider Basis in Pornic, “hundreds and hundreds“These small balls strewn a number of seashores of the city Friday, January 13. “The climate was nonetheless calm, it was on the floor of the sand, there have been hundreds of them, it is surprising, testifies Jean-François Grandsart. The air pollution is much less seen as we speak, with the gales of the previous few days the plastics have combined with the sand.

I’ve been a volunteer for 5 years at Surfrider, I’ve lived for 20 years in Pornic and I had by no means seen this“, emphasizes Jean-François Grandsart. Lionel Cheylus, head of press relations at Surfrider, confirms that that is an unprecedented air pollution by its magnitude: “There may be common lack of pellets“on the French coast however”from reminiscence, there has by no means been such a factor“.

What are “mermaid’s tears”?

“Mermaid’s tears”, additionally referred to as industrial plastic granules or pellets, come within the type of small white spheres. They’re transported after which remodeled by producers, with a view to manufacturing plastic objects. In keeping with Surfrider, vital portions of pellets are pouring out “all through the manufacturing chain“. The NGO believes that yearly 160,000 tonnes of pellets are “misplaced” by the trade within the European Unionand 230,000 tonnes worldwide.

These pellets are between 1 mm and 1.5 mm. “The marbles are so small that nothing could be achievedexplains Jean-François Grandsart. We will attempt to clear manually however it’s a drop of water. Even the mesh of the screeners’ nets [machines qui nettoient les plages] is just too huge.” These items of plastic will due to this fact fragment, ending up in nanoparticles which will probably be ingested by fish, oysters or mussels and find yourself on our plates.

Mermaid tears, or pellets, found on the seashores of Pornic, in Loire-Atlantique.


Jean-Francois Grandsart

The place do these plastic balls come from?

This week in Loire-Atlantique, a group from Cedre (Heart for Documentation, Analysis and Experimentation on Unintended Water Air pollution) carried out reconnaissance on all of the websites involved with brokers from the Departmental Directorate of Territories and of the Sea. And in keeping with Cedre, it’s unattainable to know the supply of this air pollution. These industrial plastic granules would not have a tracer, they are often new granules or from recycled plastics.

For Surfrider, the more than likely purpose for this air pollution noticed on the Atlantic coast can be the lack of a number of containers by a ship at sea. The container(s) then opened and launched the “siren’s tears” into the ‘ocean.

Complaints in opposition to X filed

The mayors of Pornic, La Bernerie-en-Retz and Sables-d’Olonne determined to file a criticism in January. “I ask justice to search out and condemn the polluting ship whose cargo soils our seashoreswrites Yannick Moreau, the mayor of Sables-d’Olonne on Twitter. Plastic is a scourge for our oceans and coastlines!

The Regional Council of Pays de la Loire additionally introduced this Thursday the submitting of a criticism, which “comes to point out our assist for the elected officers and the populations of the coast, who see their ecosystem broken by this extraordinarily invasive air pollution and whose dramatic penalties for the fauna and flora are more likely to be measured in the long run.“.

Questioned by the senator for Loire-Atlantique Joël Guerriau on Wednesday within the Senate, the Minister for Ecological Transition denounces “an environmental nightmare as a result of tens of hundreds of tonnes of business plastic pellets wash up on all of the seashores in Europe, the equal of ten billion plastic bottles”. Christophe Béchu says he helps the mayors
who file a criticism andassesses the likelihood that the ministry can be part of this criticism”.

What measures to restrict this air pollution?

In France, the AGEC legislation, Anti-Waste and Round Economic system, gives since January 1, 2022 “preventive measures for leaks of business plastic granules, involving the set up of filtration and process gear on the manufacturing, dealing with and transport websites of those granules, in addition to exterior controls“, notes Surfrider. However these procedures “don’t apply exterior French territory, and are inadequate to forestall different causes of air pollution similar to lack of containers“.

The NGO due to this fact calls on the European Union to take preventive measures and above all binding measures. “Immediately, producers have an obligation to report“a waste of these plastic pellets however”there isn’t a penalty behind“. Surfrider calls particularly for the obligatory coaching of all workers required to make use of these “siren’s tears”, it desires the EU to penalize discharges of business plastic granules within the surroundings and imposes within the occasion of an accident the quick declaration and the cleansing.

For his half, Christophe Béchu recalled on Wednesday that France would host a negotiation session for the worldwide treaty on the elimination of plastics within the spring. “It have to be a possibility for us to push on this topic“, underlined the Minister for the Ecological Transition.

Mobilization this weekend on the seashores

To mobilize on the topic and problem elected officers, Surfrider has determined to arrange a citizen mobilization this weekend on a number of seashores affected by air pollution in Brittany and Pays de la Loire:

  • Loire-Atlantique: Noéveillard seashore in Pornic, from 2 p.m.
  • North Finistère: Kerhornou seashore in Plouarzel, from 10 a.m.
  • South Finistère: Tréguennec seashore, from 10 a.m.
  • Vendée: Conches seashore in Longeville, from 10 a.m. (operation of the Vendée and La Rochelle branches)

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