Oceans facing “tidal wave of debris”

Man-made trash is threatening the world’s oceans, damaging wildlife, tourism and seafood industries and adding stress to seas already affected by climate change, Reuters quoted conservationists as saying. In a detailed report, the Washington-based Ocean Conservancy said a “tidal wave of ocean debris” would be a major pollution problem of this century.


Ocean Conservancy released a “global snapshot of marine debris” based on itemised records of rubbish collected on a single day last September. Nearly 400,000 volunteers in 104 countries took part, collecting nearly 3.2 million kilogrammes of trash — the weight of 18 blue whales — from oceans, lakes, rivers and waterways. In its report A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris and What We Can Do About It, the group said cigarette butts, plastic bags and food wrappers and containers led the list of the 11.4 million items collected.


“Our ocean is sick, and our actions have made it so,” said Vikki Spruill, Ocean Conservancy’s president and chief executive. “We simply cannot continue to put our trash in the ocean. The evidence turns up every day in dead and injured marine life, littered beaches that discourage tourists, and choked ocean ecosystems.”


The report said the waste entered the food chain, injured beachgoers and weakened economies by sapping funds from tourism and seafood industries. Thousands of animals — including marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds — choked or were poisoned each year by eating trash, or drowned when they became entangled in bags, ropes and old fishing gear.


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