"Ocean plastic pollution was a focus at the recent UN oceans conference, which
issued a declaration in support of an earlier decision by the UN Environment
Assembly to start negotiations for a global plastics treaty.
This initiative has been welcomed almost universally, but it must not distract
from the fact we actually already have good international laws regulating ships
that plastics overboard. We are just not enforcing them properly.
An estimated half of ocean plastic pollution comes from some 4.5 million
fishing vessels operating in national and international waters. Recent research
suggests more than 100 million pounds of plastic enters the oceans from
industrial fishing gear alone.
Better implementation and enforcement of existing laws would be a much faster
way of addressing ship-source plastic pollution than waiting for a new treaty
to be adopted.
Plastic waste from fishing vessels includes lost and deliberately abandoned
fishing gear such as nets, pots, floats, crates and fish aggregation devices
Plastics have been found in the deepest part of the ocean in the Mariana Trench
and in remote regions such as Henderson Island in the Pitcairn group.
Lost or abandoned fishing gear can result in “ghost fishing” where nets, FADs
and other gear continue to “fish” for decades. Other impacts of ocean plastic
pollution include entanglement, ingestion, transfer of invasive species and
toxins, navigational hazards and beach fouling."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics