top of page

Protected Pitcairn island the plastic pits

"Henderson Island - uninhabited and a day’s sea crossing from the nearest civilisation - should be an untouched paradise. Instead, its beaches are a monument to humanity’s destructive, disposable culture. All along a 2.5km stretch of sandy beach, an estimated 18 tonnes of plastic has accumulated at a rate of several thousand pieces of plastic every day."

So begins an in-depth investigative article on, an edited version of which appears in The Guardian here.

Henderson Island is one of the Pitcairn island chain and is lies in the world’s third-largest marine protected area, so commercial fishing and seafloor mining are illegal. Despite this, Henderson's 2.5 km-long East Beach, is a magnet for the plastic detritus of our throwaway culture. An estimated 18 tonnes of plastic has accumulated over decades at a rate of several thousand pieces of plastic every day, and once more it's evident that commercial fishing is the biggest plastic polluter of them all: "Fishing buoys totalled about 40% of the weight, while rope and nets made up 20%. There were also about a dozen fish-aggregation devices (FADs), rudimentary rafts with netting that could hang as deep as 100 metres below the surface."

Indeed, despite the protection afforded to the region, the research team behind the findings estimates that 60% of what they pick up appears to be associated with industrial fishing.

The article makes grim yet fascinating reading and we can all learn from it, the first major lesson being to minimise our utilisation of single-use plastics, as well as undertaking to research where the products we consume may be impacting on the environment in the unlikeliest of ways: products such as seafood – fresh and canned – because it's evident now from several notable studies that commercial/industrial fishing is the No. 1 plastic polluter of our oceans. On-by-one pole-and-line fishing, on the other hand, has far less of an adverse effect on the environment, as well as providing numerous other benefits that you can learn about here.

bottom of page