Posts Tagged ‘Marine debris’
Ban single-use plastic: bags, bottles, cups etc, scientists say
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 10, 2012 (IPS)
Plastic trash is altering the very ecology of the world’s oceans. Insects called “sea skaters”, a relative of pond water striders, are now laying their eggs on the abundant fingernail-sized pieces of plastic floating in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean instead of relying on a passing seabird feather or bit of driftwood.
With an average of 10 bits of plastic per cubic metre of seawater, there are now plenty of places for sea skaters to lay eggs in a remote region known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, 1,500 kilometres west of North America. Not surprisingly, egg densities have soared, a new study has found.
“We’re seeing changes in this marine insect that can be directly attributed to the plastic,” says Miriam Goldstein, study co-author and graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
This is the first proof that plastics in the open ocean are affecting marine invertebrates (animals without a backbone), which will have consequences for the entire marine food web.
“We simply don’t have the data to know what those consequences will be. It is a very remote region of the ocean, hard to get to and expensive to conduct research,” Goldstein told IPS.
The North Pacific Gyre is one of five large systems of rotating currents in the world’s oceans. It has become better known in recent years as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. It has at least 100 times more plastic today than it did in 1972, according to the study published this week in the journal Biology Letters.
“There were no hard surfaces before in the North Pacific Gyre other than the occasional feather and piece of wood,” says Miriam Goldstein, study co-author and a graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
“The ocean looks pretty normal out there in the gyre. There is no floating island of trash as some people imagine,” Goldstein told IPS. Read the rest of this entry »
Trashing the Oceans: 3 to 6 X More Trash Than Plankton – ‘Using Oceans as Universal Sewer’ — Cousteau
This is a repost from last year. Sad to see little progress on this issue. — Stephen
“There is no reason for delay. Governments and industry need to take action and people have to stop pointing fingers at each other and get on with it.”
California nearly became the first U.S. state to ban plastic bags, but a multi-million-dollar lobby effort by industry killed the proposed legislation
By Stephen Leahy
HONOLULU, Hawaii, U.S., Mar 28, 2011 (IPS)
Every day, billions of plastic bags and bottles are discarded, and every day, millions of these become plastic pollution, fouling the oceans and endangering marine life.
No one wants this, but there is wide disagreement about how to stop it.
“Every time I stick my nose in the water, I am shocked. I see less and less fish and more and more garbage,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the legendary marine ecologist Jacques Cousteau, who has spent four decades making documentaries and educating people about the oceans.
Please throw something in the tip jar before reading on. This is how I make my living.
On trips to the remote and uninhabited northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Cousteau found miles and miles of plastic bottles, cigarette lighters, television tubes, spray cans, broken toys, and thousands of other pieces of plastic on the beaches and thousands of tonnes of derelict fishing nets in the reefs.
“We are using the oceans as a universal sewer,” he told some 440 participants from the plastics manufacturing, food and beverage sectors, environmental organisations, scientists and policy-makers from over 35 countries at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, which ended Mar. 25. Read the rest of this entry »
Plastic Circulating Endlessly in Oceans Killing Huge Numbers of Birds, Turtles, Fish and Marine Animals
“Degradable or compostable plastic should be banned….bio-plastics simply break down into microplastic particles”– scientist
By Stephen Leahy
HONOLULU, Hawaii, U.S., Mar 24, 2011 (IPS)
That plastic bottle or plastic take-away coffee lid that has 20 minutes of use can spend decades killing countless seabirds, marine animals and fish, experts reported here this week.
On remote Pacific island atolls, diligent albatross parents unknowingly fill their chicks’ bellies with bits of plastic that resemble food. The chicks die of malnutrition, and when their bodies decay all those plastic bottle tops, disposable lighters, and the ubiquitous bits of plastic detritus get back into the environment in a cruel perversion of ‘recycling’.
There is now so much plastic in the oceans it is likely that virtually every seabird has plastic in its belly if its feeding habits mean it mistakes plastic bits for food. The same is true for sea turtles, marine animals or fish, experts say.
Northern fulmars, a common seabird numbering in the millions, have a collective 45 tonnes worth of plastic bits in their bellies, estimates Jan Andries van Franeker, a biologist with the Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies at the University of Wageningen in Holland.
At least 95 percent of fulmars in the North Sea where van Franeker has been working for three decades have one to several dozen bits of plastic in their stomachs. The same is true for related species like the tiny Wilson’s storm petrels, which unknowingly transport an estimated 35 tonnes of plastic from their wintering grounds in the North Atlantic to breeding grounds in the Antarctic, he says.
“If a seabird’s feeding habits mean it could mistake plastic for food, then it will likely have plastic in its stomach,” he said in an interview at the week long Fifth International Marine Debris Conference, which ends Friday in Honolulu, Hawaii. Read the rest of this entry »
By Stephen Leahy
KAUAI, Hawaii, U.S., Apr 1, 2011 (IPS)
“Be fantastic, don’t use plastic!” chanted a troop of 10-year- olds from President Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Honolulu at the conclusion of an international conference on the millions of tonnes of trash that enter the oceans every year, with serious consequences for marine life and habitats as well as to human health and the global economy.
Most participants were in a celebratory mood at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference, which concluded Mar. 25 with the Honolulu Commitment to address the growing problem of marine debris.
But Captain Charles Moore, the man who brought the world’s attention to the scope and scale of the problem, was not celebrating.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and every year it has only become worse,” Moore told IPS.
Moore is famous for revealing the immense amount of plastic in the north Pacific gyre, formed by ocean currents in a massive slow-moving whirlpool thousands of square kilometres in size.
Moore’s Algalita Marine Research Foundation documented that this vast expanse of oceans has about six kilogrammes of plastic for every kilogramme of plankton. He is careful to point out that there is no plastic island as reported in some media, it’s much more dispersed. Read the rest of this entry »