A large clean-up of plastic waste pollution is taking place in the Russian Arctic, marking the start of an international campaign to raise awareness of the impact of pollution in the area.
The clean up, which is being carried out by 500 local residents, volunteers and UN officials, is taking place in the waters around Murmansk, North East Russia, the largest city in the Arctic Circle with a population of 300,000 residents.
The operation marks the launch of a new non-governmental organisation, The Slava Foundation, which aims to raise awareness of the growing evidence of the impact of manmade pollution in the Russian Arctic.
The organisation said that recent discoveries of large polystyrene chunks in ice flows as little as 1000 miles from the North Pole have raised fears that the previously pristine waters of the Arctic Ocean are no longer immune from the spread of pollution.
A rise in melting ice, which previously acted as a barrier, is said to have led to an increasing flow of plastic pollution. Added to escalating levels of human pollution from coastline communities – the overall picture is one of growing concern which is also endangering local wildlife.
“Pollution in the Russian Arctic is approaching the same levels as the Atlantic & Pacific oceans,” said Sergey Rybakov, CEO of The Slava Foundation.
“Previously, the Russian Arctic has always been one of the most pristine and untouched bodies of water on the face of the earth. That we are detecting such high levels of pollution here should act as a major wake-up call to the international community,” he added.
“We are calling on all nations, but particularly those with coastlines on the Russian Arctic, to come together to find a solution to mitigate the impact of human activities on our oceans and the communities and wildlife that rely on their health,” concluded Rybakov.
A video of the team can be viewed below.
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