The new UN Environment Program (UNEP) report Marine Litter: A Global Challenge is the first attempt to address the growing marine litter problem in seas around the world. It was launched on World Oceans day, and UN Under-Secretary General/UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner describes marine litter as “symptomatic of a wider malaise: namely the wasteful use and persistent poor management of natural resources.”
He asserts that, “Some of the litter, like thin film single use plastic bags which choke marine life, should be banned or phased-out rapidly everywhere – there is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere."
Plastic is cited as one of the primary pollutants and greatest threats to marine life. According to UNEP “Plastic – especially plastic bags and PET bottles – is the most pervasive type of marine litter around the world, accounting for over 80 percent of all rubbish collected in several of the regional seas assessed. Plastic debris is accumulating in terrestrial and marine environments worldwide, slowly breaking down into tinier and tinier pieces that can be consumed by the smallest marine life at the base of the food web.” A study of fulmar seabirds in the North Sea found that 95 percent of them had plastic in their stomachs.
UNEP/GRID called for higher fines for ocean dumping as well as flexible economic incentives and deterrents to address the problem.
Our Take: Once again plastic bags and bottles are singled out for their contribution to this problem. Remember, all the plastic we produce and consume will last forever! Mindless over-consumption of use & toss items is at the root of this problem. - it's up to all of us to wake up and consciously consume far fewer of them.