Ghosts, goblins and ghouls may terrify on land, but what scares us most lies beneath the waves. Haunting habitats and endangering marine life, this silent killer doesn’t discriminate, and its victims never see it coming. What is it, you ask, that sends shivers down our spines? Marine debris.
Freakier than Freddy Krueger, marine debris kills thousands of ocean animals and seabirds, chokes coral reefs, smothers critical environments and contaminates beaches and dive sites.
An international study led by a University of Queensland researcher has revealed more than half the world's sea turtles have ingested plastic or other human rubbish.
The study, led by Dr Qamar Schuyler from UQ's School of Biological Sciences, found the east coasts of Australia and North America, Southeast Asia, southern Africa, and Hawaii were particularly dangerous for turtles due to a combination of debris loads and high species diversity.
"The results indicate that approximately 52 per cent of turtles world-wide have eaten debris," Dr Schuyler said.
Experts from around the world are meeting in London today to launch the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), marking the start of an action plan to tackle the urgent problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear.
The GGGI, driven by World Animal Protection, has brought together leading experts, including the United Nations Environment Programme, the Marine Stewardship Council, Young’s Seafood Limited and Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery to share their knowledge and expertise to ensure safer, cleaner oceans.
"What will you do to the protect the ocean?" That was the call from the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, earlier in the year. It's a call for collaboration. A call on governments, business leaders and individuals to work together and tackle the many problems our ocean faces.
Today, the European Parliament (EP) voted in Plenary in Strasbourg on the Pietikainen report, a circular economy report calling on the European Commission to increase its headline marine litter reduction target from 30% to 50% reduction by 2025. The report sends a vital message to the European Commission and Europe as a whole that the European Parliament is in favour of the circular economy as a way to greater resource security, increased jobs and growth, and to tackle marine litter.
Last week, I was honored to represent Project AWARE at two different, yet complimentary, fora where the ocean future was at the heart of international exchanges on solutions to the many challenges our ocean is facing.
Did you know that a staggering 250 million metric tons of plastic could make its way to the ocean in the next 10 years? And that as much as 70 percent of marine litter has been estimated to end up on the seabed.
Marine debris comes from many land and ocean sources. Yet few of us understand that our trash can travel over land, down streams, rivers and storm drains to the ocean.