Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacque Cousteau, says that:
“The ocean belongs to all of us, but there’s no single entity or no single nation that’s there to protect it. We need to be able to network and really care about it and all protect the oceans.”
Garbage is a huge threat to our oceans:
- Nearly three quarters of the earth is covered by ocean, and changes to the marine environment have a direct effect on the planet, the environment, and ultimately, our lives. Yet mankind continues to dump, pollute, over-fish, and in a variety of other ways, contribute to the demise of the ocean and the lives of its inhabitants.
- Trash weakens economies, harms individual species as well as entire ecosystems, such as coral reefs, that are essential for the survival of marine life. Animals choke, starve and become poisoned when they eat trash, and drown when they become entangled in bags, ropes, and old fishing gear. The majority of entangled animals found are bound up by old fishing line. The loss of wildlife affects not only the beauty and health of the planet, but also countless local economies based on the bounty of the sea.
- Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Scientists believe the world’s largest garbage dump is in the Pacific Ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch or North Pacific Gyre stretches from the coast of California to Japan, and is estimated to be the size of Texas. In some places, the floating debris – estimated to be about 90 percent plastic – goes 90 feet deep.
- International Coastal Cleanup – Nearly 400,000 volunteers at 6,485 sites in 104 countries and 42 U.S. states picked up trash along the world’s ocean and waterways on a single day in September during the annual International Coastal Cleanup – the world’s largest volunteer effort of its kind. They collected more than 6.8 million pounds of trash. Volunteers not only cleaned up trash, they recorded 11.4 million items from cigarette butts to fast food wrappers to cast-off appliances. Cleanups were conducted on ocean and waterway shorelines, as well as underwater by 10,606 divers and onboard watercraft by 1,236 boaters.
- Biodegradable plastics under development include those made from soy and corn. Polylactic acid (PLA) can be processed on existing plastics equipment, which is certainly attractive to industries with billions invested in infrastructure. These plastics biodegrade in water and soil, and compost readily. Currently, bioplastics cost more and may have physical characteristics that don’t quite match those of synthetics, but better versions that are stronger, more durable, and more versatile are under development. Where new technologies seem too expensive on first glance, we must weigh aspects like price against hidden costs like waste management, dead and injured animals, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Overfishing Destroys Marine Ecosystems
- Over the last century commercial fisheries have drastically reduced fish populations and altered the world’s marine ecosystems. On a global level, most fisheries are poorly managed and fish stocks have been fully exploited (52%), over-exploited (16%), or depleted (7%). The world’s capture fisheries peaked in the late 1980s and, despite increased fishing efforts, catch rates have dropped. More hours on the water for fishermen have yielded fewer and fewer fish.
- What we take out of the ocean as seafood or bycatch is greater than the ocean can sustain. We are not only facing a decline in the capacity of our oceans to provide a sustainable food source but we are destroying the basic ecological processes and food chains that we and marine life depend on.