June 11.2013  PHYS.ORG

Nine thousand kilos of discarded fishing nets have been collected for recycling into carpet tiles, drastically transforming littered beaches along the Danajon Bank, Philippines.

Every year tonnes of abandoned or lost fishing nets entangle and needlessly kill fish and other marine life, while polluting beaches and villages. The success of this year-long pilot between conservationists at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), global carpet tile manufacturer Interface, Inc, together with local partners that include Project Seahorse Foundation (PSF), heralds a new approach to saving our seas by keeping discarded nets out of them.

The innovative project, called Net-WorksTM, has so far involved 892 local fishers and their families combing nearby beaches to collect fishing nets, which they then exchange for payment at local community banks created for the project. For every two and a half kilos of nets collected, villagers receive enough money to buy a kilo of rice - providing an extra meal for a family of 5 in a place where many families struggle to eat 3 times a day. Additionally, the community banks provide basic financial support so families can save extra money to improve their financial security.

The recycled nets will be incorporated into Interface's brand new carpet tile collection called Net EffectTM, which is being announced today.

ZSL's Head of Global Conservation Programmes, Dr. Heather Koldewey says: "Abandoned or lost fishing nets are a growing problem responsible for causing enormous damage to wildlife and delicate coral reefs. The success of Net-Works means we've cleaned up a major source of pollution on the coastline and enabled local communities to make an income directly from their conservation activities. This is a rather unusual but exciting collaboration between conservation and industry."

Photo credit: Mariposa Photography (dot) co (dot) uk




This article was posted on Sep 21 2013 by Daniella Dimitrova Russo
All day long, images of trashed beaches kept pouring in. Plastic dominates each and every image. We asked people, “What did you learn from the coastal cleanup day?” And all the way from El Salvador, coalition member VIVAZUL answered, “That is is easier to refuse plastic than to collect it”.

Beth Terry, the tireless champion of plastic-free living, sent us this image from James Campbell National Wildlife refuge, in Oahu. She said, “…most plastic I have personally seen on one beach.”

How many images do we need to see, before we finally realize that we will not clean our way out of this mess? The only way to address plastic pollution is to reduce our use of plastic, starting today, and every day.

We know it is not easy. We know solutions are lacking, still. We know we need the support and political will of policy-makers. We know businesses cannot continue to pretend this does not concern them. But above all, we know that each of us needs to make one step in the right direction, today.
Take the REFUSE pledge, and tomorrow, say NO to one common disposable plastic item in your life.
You have begun a journey that will transform you forever.




SEP. 11/13

There is no easy way to tackle the issue of marine litter: it is complicated and has many causes, impacts and inputs. As a high percentage of marine litter comes from land based sources, EU legislation is possibly the best way to address the problem and look for solutions.

The study comes at a crucial time in the fight to tackle marine litter, with the European Commission currently focused on a wide ranging review of EU waste legislation and targets”

In order to provide some concrete guidance on the potential for existing EU legislation to tackle the multitude of land based sources of marine litter items, Seas At Risk commissioned a study from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP). Their mission was to outline which existing pieces of EU legislation could be amended to ensure a significant drop in marine litter, and whether new legislation might be required to fill gaps in the existing body of regulation.

The IEEP study “How to improve EU legislation to tackle marine litter” provides an excellent overview of EU legislation that could have an impact on the amount of waste in the marine environment. Six policy instruments in particular are identified as having a high potential level of impact: the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the Waste Framework Directive, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the Cosmetics Regulation, and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (the funding instrument of the Common Fisheries Policy). This is either because they are relevant to a large range of marine litter items and sources, or may have a dramatic impact in terms of reducing an important type of litter.

IEEP Study EU Legistlation to Tackle Marine Litter

The study’s main conclusion is that the basic framework for addressing this environmental problem is in place. However, several short-comings in the existing legislation were identified, most importantly the need for greater ambition in the current requirements and targets.

For example, if the Cosmetics Directive were to ban the use of micro plastics in sanitary products, this would greatly reduce the input of this damaging type of marine litter. However a full review of the scope and focus of the Directive would be needed to introduce such a ban.

Several of the analysed legal instruments could have a significant impact on the management of marine litter, but do not mention the concept of litter at all. The study recommends that the concept of litter is defined and systematically included in the Waste Framework and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. Another way to make EU legislation more effective in tacking marine litter would be to include a reference to the marine litter descriptor of the MSFD. 

The study also flags up a worrying implementation gap. No matter how thorough the suite of legislation to tackle marine litter, without full implementation and enforcement by Member States it can have no impact on the problem.

The study comes at a crucial time in the fight to tackle marine litter, with the European Commission currently focused on a wide ranging review of EU waste legislation and targets. 

Will EU Ministers Set Ambitious Marine Litter Reduction Targets?
JUL. 11/12

Project AWARE together with other NGOs leading the fight against marine litter is calling on European countries to set a 50% reduction target in marine litter.

We are urging EU Member States to commit to targets that will have a real effect on litter levels in our seas. Marine litter burdens the coastal communities and undermines the benefits that maritime industries such as scuba diving and tourism can bring to these communities”
Ania Budziak, Project AWARE Policy Associate Director

As part of a requirement to comply with the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) - a legislative initiative that uses an ecosystem approach to improve the management of human activities that affect marine environment including marine litter -  European Union (EU) member states are required to finalise their marine environmental targets for 2020 by 15th July 2012.
In our open letter sent to all 27 EU Environment Ministers, 30 NGOs have highlighted the importance of setting ambitious targets in reducing marine litter. With weak targets, weak measures are likely; with ambitious targets, ambitious measures become more likely. We are urging EU Member States to:
- Lead the battle against marine debris
- Cut marine litter by half by 2020
- Put in place measures to mitigate marine litter and  litter monitoring programmes
- Liaise not only with national experts but with other EU member states to ensure a coordinated approach. Marine litter knows no boundaries so only a coordinated response can solve the problem in each country’s marine waters.

Marine Debris

Large marine debris reduction targets will not be easy to achieve but they are desperately needed and they are feasible. Significant reductions have been achieved in the past in some areas, such as, in the 1990s, 50% reduction in the amount of plastic pellets found. Such reductions can, and must be, expanded but political will, cooperation among member states and long-term commitments are needed.

”We are urging EU Member States to commit to targets that will have a real effect on litter levels in our seas. We are not doing so only for the sake of marine life but also to reduce the economic and social costs of marine litter that burden the coastal communities and undermine the benefits that maritime industries such as scuba diving and tourism can bring to these communities” commented Ania Budziak.

Divers play a unique role in combating the debris problem. Only divers are removing debris underwater and we are the only ones that can contribute the critically needed underwater marine debris data on the scale its needed to show underwater impacts and devise solutions. Please keep Diving Against Debris as we push for effective measures to tackle the debris problem in our communities, large and small.

Photo courtesy of Najada Diving, Croatia and Simon Bell, Spain

The recently adopted 7th Environmental Action Plan calls for an EU wide marine litter reduction target, with a public consultation on this expected soon. Additionally, a major conference is planned for 30th September in Brussels to present the outcome of the public consultation on the Green Paper on plastic waste.

In the meantime, the Member States are busy developing their national waste prevention plans - required under the Waste Framework Directive - and are in the context of the MSFD putting together programs of measures to reduce marine litter.

Seas At Risk intends to use the study results to ensure that prevention of marine litter is high on the EU agenda.

Newman, S, Watkins, E and Farmer, A (2013) How to improve EU legislation to tackle marine litter. Institute for European Environmental Policy, London

view pdf | download pdf

Photo courtesy of Rachel Domingo




"The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, 
also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, 
is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N and 42°N.[1] 
The patch extends over an indeterminate area, 
with estimates ranging very widely depending 
on the degree of plastic concentration used 
to define the affected area."

Green Eco Services

To see a larger view of this infographic, please view here:




SEP. 13/11

No one knows for sure but scientists think over six million tons 

of marine debris may be entering our ocean every year. 
One of the reasons Project AWARE is collecting marine debris data from divers 
is to help build a clear picture of the underwater trash that threatens ocean life. 
With this knowledge, we can make more effective decisions 
when it comes to waste management policies.

Marine debris comes from many land and ocean sources. 
Check out the infographic below and follow The Ugly Journey of our Trash 
to learn how different kinds of debris threaten marine life. 
You can also embed this image in your own blog or website - see instructions below.
If you’re interested in a copy of “The Ugly Journey Of Our Trash”, 
click here for print-friendly PDF version. Also available in german.




A pair of Northern fulmars in early May at their nest site at Cape Vera, Devon Island, Nunavut. The gull-like birds tend to breed in high-Arctic Canada and on islands in the Bering Sea.

Credit: Mark Mallory.

LiveScience Staff   
July 04, 2012 08:31pm EST

Plastic found in the stomachs of dead seabirds suggests the Pacific Ocean off the northwest coast of North America is more polluted than was realized.

The birds, called northern fulmars, feed exclusively at sea. Plastic remains in their stomachs for long periods. Researchers have for several decades examined stomach contents of fulmars, and in new study they tallied the plastic products in dead fulmars that had washed up on the coasts of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, Canada.
The research revealed a "substantial increase in plastic pollution over the past four decades," the researchers said in a statement.

Plastic products deteriorate slowly and several studies in recent years have shown vast amounts plastic and other trash in the Pacific Ocean. The garbage can be harmful to the entire ecosystem, scientists say.

"Like the canary in the coal mine, northern fulmars are sentinels of plastic pollution in our oceans," said Stephanie Avery-Gomm, the study's lead author and a graduate student in University of British Columbia's Department of Zoology. "Their stomach content provides a 'snapshot' sample of plastic pollution from a large area of the northern Pacific Ocean."

Plastic products deteriorate slowly and several studies in recent years have shown vast amounts plastic and other trash in the Pacific Ocean. The garbage can be harmful to the entire ecosystem, scientists say.

The new study found that more than 90 percent of 67 fulmars had ingested plastics such as twine, Styrofoam and candy wrappers. An average of 36.8 pieces of plastic were found per bird. On average, the fraction of a gram in each bird would equate to a human packing 10 quarters in his stomach, the scientists figure. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, globally, up to 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from eating plastic. 

"Despite the close proximity of the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch,' an area of concentrated plastic pollution in the middle of the North Pacific gyre, plastic pollution has not been considered an issue of concern off our coast," Avery-Gomm said in a statement. "But we've found similar amounts and incident rates of plastic in beached northern fulmars here as those in the North Sea. This indicates it is an issue which warrants further study."

The findings, announced this week, are detailed online in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

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Your beach may be more polluted than you think. Each hour we dump one ton of invisible pollution into the ocean; if it were a visible, tangible substance like oil, we would demand that the spill be halted. Even though you can't see it, this pollution threatens our sea life -- from the smallest of plankton to the greatest of whales.

The pollution is carbon dioxide, and it's making our oceans more acidic. Ocean acidification is linked to global warming in that both are caused by CO2 buildup and both threaten to cause unprecedented devastation to the planet's biome. The early effects are already here: Baby oysters cannot survive in waters off the Pacific Northwest, coral growth has been stunted in Florida, and polar waters have eroded the shells of prey that sustain Alaska's salmon and whales. 

Sign the petition below and tell the president and the Environmental Protection Agency we must act now to end ocean acidification. The science is in, and there's no debate: Ocean acidification threatens our marine life and coastal communities. The EPA has the tools to prevent ocean acidification from hurting corals, sea otters, salmon and whales, but it must act swiftly.

It's time for the Environmental Protection Agency to act to save our sea life! Protect our coastal ecosystems and communities from ocean acidification. If the EPA waits too long, the impacts on our oceans -- their coral reefs, fisheries and other marine life -- could be devastating. 

The president and the EPA have the power to prevent the harmful impacts of ocean acidification. We urge the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to: 

-- develop a national plan to address ocean acidification; 

-- identify waters impaired by ocean acidification; 
-- monitor our coastal ecosystems, coral reefs and fisheries for impacts. 

We support swift and decisive action to curb CO2 pollution that is threatening to change the oceans as we know them -- teeming with rich, colorful life.



ART : Seahorse by lisa_bagwell on Flickr

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July 24, 2006
The Plastic Sea
Commentary by Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

On the beach on San Juan Island, Washington, Allison Lance walks her dogs every morning. She carries a plastic bag in her hand to carry the bits and pieces of plastic debris she picks up. Each morning she fills the bag, but by the next morning there is always another bag to be filled. Joey Racano does the same in Huntington Beach further south in California. The harvest of plastic waste is never-ending. Allison's and Joey's beaches and practically every beach around the world are similarly cursed.

Recently in the Galapagos I retrieved plastic motor oil bottles and garbage bags from a remote beach on the island of Santa Cruz. Every year during crossings of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, spotting plastic is a daily and regular occurrence.

A June 2006 United Nations Environmental Program report estimated that there is an average of 46,000 pieces of plastic debris floating on or near the surface of every square mile of ocean.

We live in a plastic convenience culture; virtually every human being on this planet uses plastic materials directly and indirectly every single day. Our babies begin life on Earth by using some 210 million pounds of plastic diaper liners each year; we give them plastic milk bottles, plastic toys, and buy their food in plastic jars, paying with a plastic credit card. Even avoiding those babies by using contraceptives results in mass disposal of billions of latex condoms, diaphragms, and hard plastic birth control pill containers each year.

Every year we eat and drink from some thirty-four billion newly manufactured bottles and containers. We patronize fast food restaurants and buy products that consume another fourteen billion pounds of plastic. In total, our societies produce an estimated sixty billion tons of plastic material every year.

Each of us on average uses 190 pounds of plastic annually: bottled water, fast food packaging, furniture, syringes, computers, computer diskettes, packing materials, garbage bags and so much more. When you consider that this plastic does not biodegrade and remains in our ecosystems permanently, we are looking at an incredibly high volume of accumulated plastic trash that has built up since the mid-twentieth century.

Where does it go? There are only three places it can go: our earth, our air, and our oceans.

All the plastic that has ever been produced has been buried in landfills, incinerated, and dumped into lakes, rivers, and oceans. When incinerated, the plastics disperse non-biodegradable pollutants, much of which inevitably find their way into marine ecosystems as microscopic particles.

Back in 1991, my ship, the Sea Shepherd, was anchored in the harbor of Port of Spain, Trinidad. It began to rain a hard steady downpour. A few hours later, the entire surface area of the harbor was dirty white, as if an ice floe had entered this tropical port. The "floe" consisted of Styrofoam, plastic bottles, and assorted plastic materials as far as the eye could see and it had come down from the streets, gutters, and streams into the harbor. And, of course, it was all washing out to sea, dispersed by wind and tide.

What happened to it after that? The sun and the brine broke it down into little pellets of Styrofoam and little pieces of plastic - each an insidious, floating, deadly mine set adrift in an ocean of life.

And over the years these little nodules have drifted. Many have been ingested by birds and fish. Weeks or months later, their victims decompose on the surface of the water or on a beach, re-exposing the nodules to the light of the sun, to be blown by the winds back into the sea. These vicious little inorganic parasites continue to maim and kill in an endless assault upon life in our oceans.

The simple fact is that when you drop a Styrofoam cup onto the street, you're causing more damage than you would by dropping a stick of dynamite into the ocean. You set in motion an invasion of thousands of killer plastibots that will cause death and destruction for centuries to come.

Eighteen billion disposable diapers end up in the oceans each year; Americans alone toss 2.5 million plastic bottles into the sea every hour. Our oceans are full of floating plastic debris. There is no place in the oceans where a fine trawl will not reveal plastic nodules. Studies by Captain Charles Moore and the Algalita Foundation found that even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, plastic nodules have been found to outweigh plankton by a ratio of six to one. Similar studies in the Atlantic have revealed the same ratio.

In the movie Castaway, Tom Hanks, marooned on a desert island in the South Pacific, finds a plastic siding of a portable outhouse washed up on the beach. The stuff is everywhere. I have found plastic bottles with Japanese, Chinese, Russian, and English writing littering the beaches of even the most remote Aleutian Islands.

And yet we give this global threat very little thought at all. It is out of the sight of land-dwelling humanity, and thus out of mind. The only industry that seems concerned about plastic pollution is the marine insurance business. The intake of plastics into the cooling systems of engines is one of the leading causes of maritime engine failures. Last year, Japanese insurance companies paid $50 million in claims involving plastic-related engine and prop damage.

Drifting in our seas are tens of thousands of miles of monofilament ghost drift nets and lines. This same netting ensnares ship props and the necks of sea lions and turtles. Over the years, my crew has retrieved hundreds of floating monofilament nets from the sea. All of them contained the rotting corpses of fish and birds.

In a well-documented beach clean-up in Orange County, California, volunteers collected 106 million items, weighing thirteen tons. The debris included preproduction plastic pellets, foamed plastics, and hard plastics; plastic constituted 99 percent of the total material collected. The most abundant item found on the beaches of Orange County was preproduction plastic pellets, most of which originated from transport losses. Approximately one quadrillion of these pellets, or 60 billion pounds, are annually manufactured in the United States alone. You never hear about these spillages in the newspaper, and there is not a single plastic pellet spillage response crew anywhere in the world.

The plastic products that end up in the sea from consumers constitute less than 30 percent of the total plastics dumped into the oceans each year. The greater amount comes from accidental spillage of plastic resin pellets produced by the petrochemical industry for the purpose of manufacturing consumer plastic products, or the breakdown of finished products into Styrofoam nodules or hard plastic particles. Plastic nodules are lost routinely in both the shipping and manufacturing stages, spilling from shipboard containers or from trucks onto streets and into storm drains.

Oil spills occur every day in our oceans, and major spills occur on average every two weeks somewhere in the world's marine ecosystem. Although these oil spills are notorious killers of marine wildlife, their deadly impact is confined to relatively small areas geographically, and the impact is reduced with time. The Exxon Valdez spill, for example, was confined to Alaska's Prince William Sound, and although the impact on wildlife was felt for many years, the ecosystem is slowly recovering. Yet this other kind of petrochemical spill is more invasive and permanent. This type of spill is cumulative. The spillage is never cleaned up and removed, but accumulates perpetually.

I don't think that I am exaggerating when I say that the spillage of plastic resin pellets poses a significant and unappreciated threat to survival of sea life. The oceans are becoming plasticized. This threat becomes more lethal each year as the cumulative amount increases. The impact of this spillage contributes to more casualties than all of the world's annual oil spills, yet we know very little about the problem. In fact, the public does not even recognize plastic resin pellet spillage as a problem at all.

Plastic pellets also pose an additional threat. They act as a transport medium for toxic chemicals. Many of these pellets contain polychlorinated biphenyl's (PCB). The chemicals were either absorbed from ambient seawater or used in the manufacture of plasticizers prior to the 1970's. This transfer of PCB's from ingested pellets into birds was conclusively proven and documented in the fatty tissues of great shearwaters (Puffinus gravis). Studies have shown that 75 percent of all shearwaters examined contained ingested plastic.

Of 312 species of seabirds, some 111 species, or 36 percent, are known to mistakenly ingest plastic. In Hawaii, sixteen of the eighteen resident seabird species are plastic ingestors, and 70 percent of this ingestion is of floating plastic resin pellets. Seabirds in Alaska have been found to have stomachs entirely filled with indigestible plastic. Penguins on South African beaches have suffered high chick mortality from eating plastic regurgitated by the parents, and 90 percent of blue petrel chicks examined on South Africa's remote Marion Island had plastic particles in their stomachs.

It is a global problem, and for seabirds there are no safe places. For most people, the ocean is a big toilet. The belief is that garbage, sewage, and plastics are dispersed and taken away.

Unfortunately, nothing is really ever "taken away"; it is simply perpetually circulated. The oceans are pulsating with powerful currents, and these currents keep plastic debris in constant circulation. As a result, debris travels in what are called "gyres." The gyre concentrates the garbage in areas where currents meet. For example, one of the largest of these movements in the Atlantic is called the central gyre, and it moves in a clockwise circular pattern driven by the Gulf Stream. The central gyre concentrates heavily in the northern Sargasso Sea, a place that is also host to numerous spawning fish species.

The number of floating plastic pellets found in the Sargasso Sea has been measured in excess of 3,500 parts per square kilometer. The same ratio of 3,500 parts per square kilometer was found in the waters of the southern coasts of Africa. This study found that plastic pollution had increased in South African waters from 1989 to the present by 190 percent.

Birds, turtles, and fish mistake the tiny nodules for fish eggs. Garbage bags, plastic soda rings, and Styrofoam particles are regularly eaten by sea turtles. A floating garbage bag looks like a jellyfish to a turtle. The plastic clogs the turtles' intestines, robbing the animals of vital nutrients, and it has been the cause of untold turtle losses to starvation. All seven of the world's sea turtle species suffer mortality from both plastic ingestion and plastic entanglement. One turtle found dead off Hawaii carried over 1,000 pieces of plastic in its stomach and intestines. And recently, a land-based turtle rescued in a Florida waterway by Stephen Nordlinger was unable to submerge due to the amount of Styrofoam trapped in its body, making it permanently buoyant.

The amount of plastic pellets present on beaches is astonishingly high. In New Zealand, one beach was found to contain over 100,000 pellets per square meter. Thus, it is not so farfetched to suggest that people are in fact sunbathing on plastic beaches - literally. I have stopped my ship in mid-ocean and found flip-flops, suntan oil bottles, plastic Coke bottles, garbage bags, and even large floating industrial plastic sheets. In each place sampled, we have also found plastic pellets.

Once, on the bottom of the Mediterranean off France, I witnessed a scene that appalled me. The entire bottom was made of plastic. Bottles and plastic bags swaying with the tide, replacing the sea grasses and algae. It was especially sad to see one little fish scurry from behind a white plastic bag to take cover from me in a sunken automobile tire.

Brushing aside another drifting white bag, I spied a flicker of red on the bottom. What I found was a plastic face staring up at me with a great big smile and two enormous plastic ears. It was the decapitated head of a Mickey Mouse doll.

It's a plastic sea out there.




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Sponsored by: The Marine Mammal Center

H.M.S. Pinnifur, an endangered Guadalupe fur seal, was found entangled in nylon fish net. She was skinny, weak and malnourished and hadn't eaten for days. Fortunately, she was rescued and rehabilitated by The Marine Mammal Center, and eventually released back to her ocean home. Many other marine animals aren't as lucky: a run-in with ocean trash can be fatal.

Take the pledge to stop trashing our oceans!

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