Ocean Action Hub

7 Mar 2017 - Half of the plastic clogging oceans were used once, says UN resident coordinator Douglas Broderick.​

Millions of Indonesians depend on oceans to feed their families. Fishermen, ferryboat drivers, tour guides and freight workers. When the ocean suffers, so do lives.

But 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are swirling around in the world’s seas. Five giant “patches” of garbage are floating in the world’s oceans. They are nearly equivalent to the entire land mass of Indonesia. They’re growing. Patches have collected so much trash — mostly plastic — they can be seen from space.

Plastic production has risen steadily for fifty years. Out of 299 million tons of plastic produced in 2013 globally, 50 percent was for single-use packaging. When we order food to our homes, or ask for food and drink to “take away”, we are creating waste for personal convenience. There is a one in five chance it will end up in the ocean.

Maritime debris experts point out Indonesia has become the world’s second-biggest marine pollutant, tossing approximately 1.3 million tons annually into waters. If we don’t act now, there could be more plastic particles than fish in the oceans by 2050.

Up to 135,000 whales globally are entangled in marine plastic each year. Countless fish, seals, birds and turtles are ingesting marine waste, and choking to death.

Fishermen have reported animal carcasses washing up, entangled in plastic bags.Plastic is killing migratory animals and endangered species. Marine plastic is poisoning one of Indonesia’s most nutritious food: fish.

Microplastics are particles smaller than 1mm coming from clothing and cosmetics. They are ingested by fish and shellfish species including mussels, clams, oysters particularly in shallow water or coastal areas. Microplastic-poisoned fish are eaten by people. We need to know more about this impact on human health. The impact of marine waste on tourism is worrying. For example, Wakatobi is known for having the highest number of reefs and fish species in the world and is a protected marine national park. International companies are developing five-star hotels.

The local government will allocate Rp20 billion (US$1.5 million) from its 2017 regional budget for the development and promotion of tourism — with the goal of increasing visitors to 40,000 this year.

Global research has shown that coral reefs littered with marine plastic are not only unattractive for divers, but physically damaged. This is seen in shallow tropical reefs. Marine litter impacts Indonesia’s tourism. It discourages tourists from visiting beaches, or taking dives, two of the sector’s greatest assets.

The fate of most plastic debris, like water bottles, is the ocean floor — which means it’s out of sight and unable to be detected until consequences to marine life and economy become clear. We cannot afford to wait for more research to be conducted before the mess is cleaned up. Everyone must curb their personal consumption of plastic. CONTINUE READING HERE: http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2017/02/07/oceans-for-fish-not-plastic.html

Average: 5 (1 vote)
Publication date: 
Publication Organisation: 
The Jakarta Post
Publication Author: 
Douglas Broderick, UN resident coordinator in Indonesia
Thematic Area: 
Marine pollution
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Wayne Sentman's picture

Wayne Sentman said:

The risk of this growing cloud of plastic pollution in these coral triangle hotspots is real. When we promote the biodiverse reefs of this region as remote and exquisitely vibrant, it is sad to arrive with a bunch of excited ecotourists only to learn that loads of plastic trash have beaten all of us there. We explored this problem in a recent expedition "Dragons to Debris" traveling from Bali to Komodo with artists, scientists, conservation photographers, students, and ecotourists - this is what we saw - There is no Away