Ocean Plastic pollution has reached crisis levels, according to a recent report, as floating fragments of plastic continue to ravage marine ecosystems and contaminate worldwide stock of seafood. An estimated “5.25 trillion” bits of plastic trash is believed to be floating around in the world’s oceans, with 8 million tons of plastic likely added to these numbers every year according to the study. Andreas Merkl, CEO of Ocean Conservancy, candidly voiced his concerns about the enormity of the problem.
“It’s reaching crisis proportions. Plastic breaks down into small pieces that look like plankton and is eaten by everyone from plankton to whales. We can concentrate on the places where the plastic is hitting the ocean. You have to concentrate on the fundamentals of waste management. Five countries would solve half the problem.”
The new report, published by Ocean Conservancy in conjunction with the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, calls for urgent world attention to counter this problematic development and ensure that uncompromising waste management practices, found to be gravely lacking in some leading developing countries around the world, are implemented without further ado.
Oceans are unquestionably the most voluminous territories on the planet, and encompass a diverse and extensive ecosystem. Although this may lend the impression that they can absorb an inexhaustible supply of the global waste material without any resounding repercussions, facts suggest that the opposite, in fact, is true. Although plastic-related waste accounts for roughly 10 percent of the entire waste produced around the world, it has remained one of the more dominant elements infiltrating the oceans of late. It is inconceivably hazardous for the environment as well, as marine animals often mistakenly deem it a source of food.
Despite the trash being released into deeper waters, the odds of it washing up on shore are exceedingly high. Polluted seafood can dangerously affect people and could trigger potentially life-threatening conditions that may arise owing to an exposure to plastic related chemicals.
According to estimates, there is a great “patch of garbage” twice the size of Texas inside the Pacific Ocean. This island of trash commonly referred to as the North Pacific Gyre, situated off the coast of California, is the largest oceanic trash point in the world, where floating plastic quantities surpass total marine life “six to one” within relatively confined perimeters. The “Trash Vortex,” also known as the “Eastern Garbage Patch,” harbors a sea of rubbish floating on the surface in what is understood as a seemingly endless spiral.
It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of pollution to the world’s marine environment emanates from land. In Los Angeles, for example, 10 metric tons of plastic bits are dumped into the Pacific Ocean every single day. Recent data on plastic-triggered ocean contamination is rather confounding, indicating that more plastic has been generated globally over the last ten years than during the entire last century, with only 5 percent of disposed plastic recovered after use. Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface and is known to wipe out innumerable birds and other marine species year after year.
In 2016, as previously reported by the Inquisitr, the world’s largest oceanic “plastic pollution cleanup” is likely to commence ‘off the coast of Japan, near the island of Tsushima.
The report also mentions some of the key developing countries, namely China, Indonesia, and the Philippines, most notorious for dumping excessive industrial waste into the ocean, possibly owing to insufficiently adequate infrastructure and increased propensity for industrial development.
[Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]