November 14, 2018 / 2:27 PM / a month ago

Fish and chips under threat from plastic-clogged seas, UK charity warns

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s fish and chips, one of the nation’s favorite staples, is under threat from the deluge of plastic waste that is choking seas and endangering marine life, a leading environmental charity warned on Wednesday.

To highlight the risk, Plastic Oceans UK teamed up with a “chippie” in the northern city of Blackburn to serve hungry customers battered deep-fried fish-shaped plastic instead of the usual cod with their chips.

“The amount of plastic reaching the ocean threatens not only the future of fish, but our future, too. If we continue at this rate, not only will our beloved national dish be a thing of the past, but we’ll be facing other catastrophic problems for our planet,” said Geoff Brighty, technical director of Plastic Oceans UK.

Plastic Oceans’ FutureFishandChips campaign is the latest in a string of global efforts by environmental groups and the United Nations to pare back single-plastic use that is also clogging landfills. Big brands from Coke to Kellogs have also pledged to cut all plastic waste from their operations as public pressure mounts for manufacturers and retailers.

“When you look at how much plastic is now believed to be entering into the environment - it’s somewhere between four and 12 million tons every year and it’s projected to grow to over 20 million tons by 2030 which is a considerable amount of material to go into the oceans and we can already see it’s causing impacts on beaches and in fisheries,” Brighty said.

“So it’s not too much of a stretch of imagination to think that if we don’t stop this it will start to impact on fish populations and fish stocks.”

The hungry customers served up battered plastic were initially irate but appreciated the stunt when it was explained to them.

“You watch television and you see the oceans and go on social media and see all these bottles all over the place but then until it’s actually served on a plate to you it’s just kind of ... it’s a bit of an eye opener when you find out what it’s really about,” one of the customers said.

Reporting by Stuart McDill, Writing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise; Editing by David Evans

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