Joint clean-up frees Island of Spiekeroog from marine litter washed up in winter

On the East Frisian island of Spiekeroog, about 60 pupils and 20 staff members of the Hermann Lietz School Spiekeroog as well as about 50 islanders and guests took part in an island-wide marine litter clean-up event today. The Wittbülten National Park House had called for volunteers to clean the beach of marine litter washed up this winter. The dunes and salt marshes were not searched, because the breeding season has already started. Within three hours, 12 Kubikmeter were collected. The event was supported by the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS) in partnership with the Swiss watch manufacturer Oris, the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as well as the Wadden Sea sailing associations Soltwaters e.V. and Wadvaarders.

“It is always shocking how much accumulates in just a few months,” says Swaantje Fock, Director of the Wittbülten National Park House. “At the same time, I feel very impressed by the energetic and numerous support here on the ground. Moreover, the new UN agreement makes me tentatively optimistic that the pile of washed-up plastic will become smaller in the future.” The week before, in Nairobi, the world community presented a joint agreement against global plastic pollution.

Scientific help came from the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence. As part of their "Plastik Ops" project, the Ostplate was flown over in advance to identify possible accumulations of litter, giving the volunteers clear directions for their search. Last year, in cooperation with the Hermann Lietz School, located in the immediate vicinity of Spiekeroog's Ostplate, considerable amounts of litter were found and disposed in this manner.

The clean-up was also supported by Oris. As part of their Change for the Better campaign, the Swiss watch manufacturer promotes similar campaigns worldwide. Since 2021, the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat and Oris have also maintained a partnership that has resulted in a limited-edition watch in honour of the Wadden Sea World Heritage. Part of sales of the watches will benefit the International Wadden Sea School.

“Last year we already organised a joint marine litter clean-up event in the Dutch part of the Wadden Sea,” says Anja Domnick from the CWSS. “There, the Dutch partner organisation of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Sailing Association, Wadvaarders, led the campaign. Their participation today in Spiekeroog is a passing of the baton, so to speak." A children's camp sponsored by Oris is planned for this summer in Harlesiel. Next year, joint activities will take place in Denmark in the framework of the partnership.