Marine debris injures and kills marine life, interferes with navigation safety, and poses a threat to human health. Our oceans and waterways are polluted with a wide variety of marine debris ranging from soda cans and plastic bags to derelict fishing gear and abandoned vessels.
Today, there is no place on Earth immune to this problem. A majority of the trash and debris that covers our beaches comes from storm drains and sewers, as well as from shoreline and recreational activities such as picnicking and beach going. Abandoned or discarded fishing gear is also a major problem because this trash can entangle, injure, maim, and drown marine wildlife and damage property.
Marine debris can kill and injure marine wildlife through ingestion and entanglement, disperse invasive species, endanger human health, cause damage to shipping vessels, and hurt businesses and tourism by polluting our beaches and coastline. Plastic debris is especially threatening because of its ability to absorb and concentrate toxic pollutants.
Sources of Marine Plastic:
- The main sources of marine plastic are land-based, from urban and storm runoff, sewer overflows, beach visitors, inadequate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, construction and illegal dumping.
- Ocean-based plastic originates mainly from the fishing industry, nautical activities and aquaculture.
- Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, half of which is used to design single-use items such as shopping bags, cups and straws.
Toxic for Sea Surface Feeders
- Plastic has increasingly become a ubiquitous substance in the ocean. Due to its size and color, animals confuse the plastic for food, causing malnutrition.
- It poses entanglement risks and threatens their overall behavior, health, and existence.
- Worldwatch Institute reports that at least 267 species of marine wildlife are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris, most of which is composed of plastic.
Plastic pollution negatively impacts almost every living organism in the world’s oceans. Because we are the source of plastic pollution, human beings must take action to improve the quality of life for marine animals. We should minimize the use of plastics in our daily lives and recycle the waste as much as possible. When visiting the shore, we need to make sure that plastics are properly disposed of. Even those living in landlocked areas need to be aware that balloons and plastic bags can blow for miles creating risk for all aquatic creatures and should be safely disposed.