The arrival of the Volvo Ocean Race and the campaign to Turn the Tide on Plastic in Auckland has coincided with a petition hand in to the New Zealand Government demanding a ban on single-use plastic bags.
The 65,000-signature petition was handed to Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage, asking the Government for a regulatory ban on the plastics. The hand in comes as the Volvo Ocean Race and the Turn the Tide on Plastic boat, which is collecting scientific data on microplastics, recently arrived in Auckland.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, actor Sam Neil, anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall, and a range of organisations are all supporting the move for the Government to ban single-use plastic bags.
And Turn the Tide on Plastic sailor Bianca Cook, the first Kiwi woman competitor in almost two decades, is supporting the campaign and has signed the petition.
Bianca said: “People are becoming more aware of the plastic issues and I have seen plastic in remote parts of the ocean as we race around the globe.
“It is good that Kiwis are thinking about their use of plastic bags and we should think about banning plastic straws and cutlery too. Hopefully supermarkets can also find ways to make their aisles plastic free too.”
Greenpeace are one of the organisations taking part in the petition hand in.
Greenpeace campaigner, Elena Di Palma, said: ““Research has shown that one in three turtles found dead on New Zealand beaches had ingested plastic. This is a clear sign that our oceans are sick. Greenpeace is part of a powerful movement calling on the NZ Government to ban single-use plastic bags, as a first step to tackling this issue.
"We welcome the Turn The Tide On Plastic team's arrival into New Zealand, and hope that their experience of seeing the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans will further inspire New Zealand to take bold action".
The Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme, supported by Volvo Cars, collaborates with the seven race boats to gather critical information on Ocean health, including data on microplastics.
The Turn the Tide on Plastic boat is testing salinity, dissolved CO2 and algae alongside groundbreaking tests for microplastics levels in the Oceans. At the Auckland stopover, the Team AkzoNobel is to become the second boat to be fitted with the testing equipment doubling the amount of data the boats will be able to collect increasing the scientific knowledge during the 7,600 nautical mile leg across the remote Southern Ocean to Itajaí in Brazil.
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark added: "The banning of single-use plastic bags from stores, communities, and the environment would be a big step in the right direction towards achieving the targets of sustainable development goals, a step where we are well behind many other countries which are enacting legislation.”