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Lessons from a dead whale

John Crump

Story by GRID-Arendal February 9th, 2017

The story of a Cuvier beaked whale that died with a stomach full of plastic bags went around the world last week.

Besides being a major story in Norway, it was carried in newspapers from the United Kingdom to China and India. GRID-Arendal was also in the news connecting the whale’s death to the broader issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

GRID-Arendal’s Managing Director, Peter Harris, recently had an opportunity to discuss the issue with Norwegian Climate and Environment Minister, Vidar Helgesen. The Minister’s department is leading Norwegian efforts to deal with plastic waste in the ocean.

Given the state of the oceans, Helgesen said the story wasn’t all that surprising.

Vidar Helgesen, The minister of Climate and Environment, says that marine plastic is the fastest growing environmental problem we have.

Posted by GRID-Arendal on 8. februar 2017

Helgesen said Norway approaches the problem of marine plastics from two angles – at home and internationally.

- China is the biggest source of marine plastics, says The minister of Climate and Environment, Vidar Helgesen.

Posted by GRID-Arendal on 8. februar 2017

Peter Harris talks about what his organization is doing on the issue.

- Our role is to raise awareness and contribute to finding solutions to reduce marine plastics, states Managing Director, Peter Harris

Posted by GRID-Arendal on 8. februar 2017

Helgesen and Harris said the whale story could make a difference in how people think about plastic waste in the ocean.

- This whale is simply one example we know of, and there are probably thousands of examples that have gone unnoticed, says Peter Harris

Posted by GRID-Arendal on 8. februar 2017

The Minister outlined some of the work Norway has been doing to tackle the problem.

How does Norway contribute to international recognition of the marine plastics problem? Vidar Helgesen, The minister of Climate and Environment, explains.

Posted by GRID-Arendal on 8. februar 2017

Taking action is the theme of a conference on marine plastics this week in Stavanger, a city on the west coast of Norway. Organized by the Norwegian NGO and GRID-Arendal's partner, Hold Norge Rent, the conference looks at plastic pollution as an international -- and local -- problem.

Among other things, participants discussed how to recycle and reuse fishing nets or old fibreglass boats, best practices in terms of awareness campaigns and local Norwegian solutions like beach clean ups.

Footnote: Whale photo: Sotra brannvesen/NTB scanpix