10 million tonnes of litter end up in the oceans every year. That is one garbage truck per minute, 400 kilos per second. Millions of marine animals die every year because of marine litter, including sea birds, seals, whales, dolphins and turtles. In some areas, micro plastics already outnumber plankton by six to one. And the prospects for the future look grim: by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the seas and 99% of seabirds could have ingested plastic.
"The United States Coast Guard and the Canadian Coast Guard's long-standing relationship has yielded great successes . . . Stewardship of our natural resources and the protection of our shared maritime boundary requires great coordination between our two organizations. . . " - Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft
268,940 tons of plastic float through the world’s oceans, spreading, accumulating, and being swallowed or absorbed. A group of researchers led by Markus Eriksen of the Five Gyres Institute in LA made this estimate in 2014. 5.25 trillion plastic particles are sitting in the ocean, they wrote in their paper, which was the first ever estimate for the total amount of plastic in the ocean.
Garbage patches are not an accumulation of these horrific encounters between wildlife and trash, however, they are spiraling masses of something much more subtle and sinister.
“The best bumper sticker I’ve ever seen,” my grandmother told us between gifts, “was one that read ‘Throw it away? There is no away.’”
We aimed for a waste-free gift-giving this year, not buying any new items for gift wrapping whatsoever. Rather than worry about buying enough wrapping paper, gift bags, gift tags, and tissue paper, it was fun to see which bags and boxes have made a comeback year after year.
Having recently attended a NOAA workshop in New Hampshire, I was inspired to launch this blog by starting with a subject we at NAMEPA are all too familiar with - marine debris. Something that stuck with me from this workshop is…