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Normandy, September 2021

"A huge sky, a beach as far as the eye can see, a poignant story... and CRAAAAC! I'm at Utah Beach in Normandy and I just stepped on a plastic bottle buried in the sand.

I am brought back to the reality of my day. Today, the wind is blowing and the sea is not conducive to seatrekking, so I'm going to walk the sparkling silica for the European INTERREG Channel research program "Preventing Plastic Pollution".

More precisely, I'm going to collect and inventory marine waste washed up on several sections of beach in order to help understand the problem of macro-plastics in the oceans.

I quickly find plastic bottles, food packaging, cans, nets, ropes, party balloons, objects that have drifted from afar as well ... and dozens of nets and oyster hooks detached from the local farms and washed up on the beach.

The spectacle is distressing as I see the busy oyster farmers coming and going in their tractors at the same pace as the horses of the nearby stud farms gallop on the hard sand of the shore.

The spectacle is a bit surreal, the construction orthogonal: hikers, riders and mounts gently caressing the shoreline to collect the natural benefits that the ocean brings - and the operators extracting their production with great force perpendicular to the beach.

I stand there, motionless, my bags full of waste in my hands, observing this very contemporary and symbolic ballet. But I am optimistic, convinced that awareness is already on the way and therefore that the aquaculture industry has no choice but to take into account the new expectations and demands of consumers in terms of transparency and environmental responsibility."

The results

That day I collected alone more than 30 kilos and more than 400 liters of waste in a few hours in the Baie des Veys.

(Philippe Balch)


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