According to hundreds of academic studies, plastic pollution at sea has reached alarming levels. This will only continue to increase if there is no significant action taken to prevent it from reaching the oceans.
The review was conducted by Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute. It was commissioned by WWF, an environmental group.
“We find it at the ocean surface, in deepest ocean trenches and in Arctic seaice,” stated Melanie Bergmann, a biologist who co-authored this study .
It found that some regions, such as the Mediterranean and East China, have dangerous amounts of plastic. Others, however, could become more polluted in future.
The researchers concluded that plastic pollution has affected almost all species of ocean life and is threatening important ecosystems like coral reefs, mangroves, and mangroves.
Plastic is broken down into smaller pieces, which means it enters the marine food chain and is ingested by everything from whales to turtles to tiny plankton.
It is almost impossible to get that plastic out of water again, so policymakers need to focus on stopping it from entering the oceans first, stated Bergmann.
She said that some studies had shown that, even if this happened today, the marine microplastics would continue to grow for many decades.
Matthew MacLeod from Stockholm University, who is a professor in environmental science, was not part of the report. He said that the report appeared to be a solid review of existing studies on plastic pollution.
He said, “The only thing that can be (and will) debated is whether there are enough evidence to justify aggressive action (such that which is advocated by this report) that will definitely disrupt current practices in plastic production, use, and disposal.”
MacLeod was also involved in another study that concluded that immediate actions are necessary due to the potential global effects.
Heike Vesper, WWF, stated that while consumers can reduce plastic pollution through changing their behaviours, governments must step in and take on the responsibility of the problem.
She said that “what we need is a strong policy framework,” as she looked ahead to the U.N. Nairobi, Kenya: “It is a global problem that requires global solutions.