Despite countless shocking pictures of sea turtles dying after becoming entangled in plastic bags or of beaches looking like garbage dumps, nothing seems to change. Anyone wandering on Israel's beaches, especially after the summer, is greeted by the full range of Israeli litter. And if the change won't come from due environmental awareness, perhaps it will come from pain in the pocket: the Ministry of Environmental Protection is moving up a gear in enforcement against those who throw garbage on the beaches, with a NIS 250,000 budget to reinforce seaside local authorities' personnel with police assistance in maintaining standards of tidiness on the beaches.
Israel Police officers will operate alongside local authority wardens to boost deterrence and reduce the damage to the beach and maritime environment. Although the sea bathing season extends beyond, the extra enforcement measures will last only until the end of September. Litterbugs can expect a NIS 750 fine.
The budget for the extra enforcement, equivalent to 1,500 hours of police patrols, will be financed from the clean fund set up under the law requiring supermarket chains to charge NIS 0.10 for plastic bags. So far, only 90 fines have been imposed for dumping garbage on beaches.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection says in launching its "Clean Beach" program that one third of the garbage on beaches consists of disposable utensils and packaging left behind. Israel's beaches are leaders, in a bad sense, for the amount of plastic on them, both in the Mediterranean region and globally.
A survey by Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, which monitors the marine environment for the Ministry of Environmental Protection, found that at depths of 20-80 meters and also at depths of 200-1,400 meters, the garbage collected consisted mostly of plastic bags and food packaging. The plastic fragments into microplastic, tiny pieces of plastic found in aquatic creatures, birds, and also in the bodies of human beings.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 2, 2019
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