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Surfer's close encounter with a fridge prompts pollution plea


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Surfer's close encounter with a fridge prompts pollution plea

For more than three decades Marcus Schaefer has been enjoying the surf near one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

With the Christ the Redeemer statue as a backdrop, he has spotted turtles and dolphins in the water off Leblon, Rio de Janeiro.

But it was Schaefer’s recent encounter with something altogether less graceful that has prompted his calls for action on sea pollution.

The surfer, 42, was in waters off Leblon when he spotted a fridge floating nearby.

“I took a wave with a friend in Leblon when we saw a floating object a little further,” Schaefer said.

“Little by little the current brought it back to us, and it was there that we realised that it was a fridge, surreal!

“In reality, it was the current and the waves that brought it back to the beach, it was dangerous. Fortunately, no one got hurt.”

Watch the video

Schaefer, who posted a video of the fridge to coincide with World Oceans Day on Thursday, June 8, has called for more to be done to clean-up pollution.

“There are two canals running down the beach at Ipanema, and the water that comes out of it is filthy, and depending on the currents the beach is sometimes disgusting.

“I’ve been surfing since I was little and almost every day, I go to the beach early, I always worried about picking up the rubbish that people leave behind.

“With this sad episode, I think that I really have to do something more serious. You can not rely solely on the government.”

Plastic debris has been found littering the oceans from the North to the South Poles and around remote Pacific islands.

But only 1 percent is thought to be floating on the sea surface – the remaining 99 percent is scattered along coast lines, buried deep in sea-beds or hidden in the guts of marine creatures, said Erik van Sebille, oceanographer and associate professor at Utrecht University.

Marine experts fear there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, measured by weight, according to a factsheet from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a UK-based charity working to end waste in the economy.

This year’s World Oceans Day had a focus on tackling plastic pollution and preventing marine litter.

Van Sebille argues that, at this stage, preventative measures to stem the flow of plastics would be more effective than trying to clean up the mess.

Internationally, significant efforts are being made to remove plastic from the world’s water bodies.

One example is “The Ocean Cleanup”, a Dutch foundation formed after a speech by a concerned Dutch teenager went viral online. It aims to clear over half of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, an area between Hawaii and California where ocean currents have concentrated plastic debris.

Meanwhile, customers must pay for plastic shopping bags in some countries like Britain and Ireland, while France has banned them outright, adding disposable plastic cups and plates from 2020.

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