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. Continue reading

Fight Against Marine Garbage Runs Into Plastics Lobby – Cousteau “shocked” by state of oceans

This is my final article in the Trashing the Ocean series. It looks at the results of the first major international effort to deal with the issue in 11 years. It’s less than satisfying effort largely due to the plastics lobby.  One of the unofficial solutions:  buy local and create local, sustainable communities says the guy who ‘discovered’ the pacific garbage patch. — Stephen

There are three to six kilogrammes of marine trash for every kilogramme of plankton…. 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.

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.

Jean-Michel Cousteau

This independent environmental journalism depends on public support. Click here learn more.

Humanity is risking its own health and survival in treating the oceans this way, Cousteau said. The oceans are the source of life on our planet. Through evaporation, oceans are the most important source of fresh water while phytoplankton generates at least half the oxygen we breathe.

“No one is away from the ocean. We are all intimately connected by every breath we take,” he said.

Continue reading

Drowning the Oceans in Plastic Trash (Pacific Garbage Patch)

plastic trash - pacific gyre By Stephen Leahy

UPDATE: The “Pacific Garbage Patch” is really a “plastic soup” where the plastic is distributed throughout the water column in area more than twice the size of Texas. See here for more

[FYI: I’m an independent journalist who supports his family and the public interest writing articles about important environmental issues. ]

Wired 06.05.04

Marine trash, mainly plastic, is killing more than a million seabirds and 100,000 mammals and sea turtles each year, said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a statement.

Plastic bags, bottle tops and polystyrene foam coffee cups are often found in the stomachs of dead sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles and others. The implications have many at the conference concerned. Last April, Dutch scientists released a report on litter in the North Sea and found that fulmars, a type of seagull, had an average of 30 pieces of plastic in their stomachs.

In the sea, big pieces of plastic look like jellyfish or squid, while small pieces look like fish eggs, says Bill Macdonald, vice president of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, a Long Beach, California-based nonprofit environmental organization.

Macdonald, who is also an underwater filmmaker, said he has seen albatross parents fly huge distances to feed their young a deadly diet of plastic bottle caps, lighters and light sticks.

“The sheer volumes of plastic in oceans are staggering,” he said. In recent years Algalita researchers have sampled a huge area in the middle of the North Pacific, and found six pounds of plastic for every pound of algae.

Do you like this article? It is funded by contributions from readers like you. Please click here to make a donation.

Continue reading