Call to tackle pollution problem

By Abby Rugg

Published on Monday, February 11, 2013 - 09:49


Call to tackle pollution problem

A guillemot found at Yaverland. PIcture courtesy of Emma Lingard-Lane.

CALLS for a ban on the substance that killed birds across the south coast being dumped at sea have been supported by the RSPCA on the Isle of Wight.

The sticky substance discovered on the birds, mostly guillemots, has been identified by University of Plymouth scientists as Polyisobutene (PIB), an oil additive used in ship engines.

Conny Boon, RSPCA Godshill centre manager, said she agreed with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' (RSPB), which has called for tighter international regulations to stop PIB being released.

PIB is believed to have been responsible for over 4,000 seabird deaths since 1994.

Two affected guillemots were discovered in Sandown and Yarmouth and were taken to the RSPCA Isle of Wight centre, but more birds were found dead around the north-west side of the Island.

PIB has one of the lowest hazard classifications under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and the RSPB has raised the validity of it.

Alec Taylor, the RSPB’s Marine Policy Officer, said: "Given that this substance is used for making chewing gum, adhesive tape and cosmetics, millions of people safely come into contact with it every day.

"However, it's when it mixes with sea water that this chemical can become lethal for seabirds, covering them in a sticky goo, and preventing them from flying, feeding and ultimately surviving."

The RSPB is seeking public support to call on the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to review the hazard classification of PIB and make regulations that prevent any further incidents.



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