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KBB relaunches drive for reporting flotsam

Scientific artefact: a Nike running shoe believed to have been part of the cargo of The Maersk Shanghai, which lost more than 70 containers during high winds just 17 miles off Oregon Inlet, between Kitty Hawk and Cape Hatteras, the Outer Banks, North Carolina, on March 3, 2018. Scientists and environmentalists use reports and evidence of the cargo being retrieved to study ocean currents (Photograph submitted)

Shoes from an international shipping spill 15 months ago appear to have made their way to Bermuda.

Hundreds of unworn Nike shoes have washed ashore in numerous locations separated by thousands of miles after at least 70 containers spilt from the 1,000-foot Maersk Shanghai in high winds off the Outer Banks of North Carolina overnight on March 3, 2018.

Anne Hyde, the executive director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, who regularly takes part in beach clean-ups, said that about five had been found so far on the island. Hundreds more have been discovered in the Azores, Britain, the Bahamas, France, Ireland, Orkney and the Channel Islands.

Ms Hyde said: “There have been about five shoes found that people have made KBB aware of; one shoe here, two shoes there.”

She urged people to report such findings to help environmentalists research how trash travels across the ocean.

She added: “If you find something that looks like it belongs to this shipment, take a photograph and e-mail it to office@kbb.bm.

“Include where you found it and the date so that we can start compiling a list of findings and then dispose of it the way you would throw out any burnable trash.”

The BBC reported this week how shoes had since been found on beaches on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Ms Hyde said that it was difficult to know who to blame.

She said: “If a case of beer falls off the back of a truck is the brand of the beer responsible? The truck driver, the road conditions? This is the same, but on a much larger scale.”

But she added: “We do push up the consumer chain back to the manufacturers and marketers so that they can share some of the responsibility.

“We want to do a little brand shaming by saying you need to take responsibility and change the materials your products are made from.”

KBB has also discussed the issue with Curtis Ebbsmeyer, who wrote the book Floaties about how trash travels, and Tom Pitchford, a fisheries expert from Florida.

Ms Hyde said that KBB is tracking another spill believed to be from 2014 of HP ink cartridges found stranded in Britain, France and Portugal.

She said that more than 300 cartridges have washed ashore in Bermuda since 2017.

Environmentalists believe more than eight million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans each year.

About 80 per cent comes from land-based sources, 12 per cent is from abandoned and lost fishing gear, and the remainder is from recreational and commercial maritime activity.

Ms Hyde said: “It is a spoonful in the overall problem, but it is still worrying that this still occurs.”