Paris: Plastics have penetrated all parts of the ocean and are now “from the smallest plankton to the largest whales,” said the Wildlife Group WWF yesterday, calling for urgent efforts to develop an international treaty on plastics.
Small pieces of plastic reach even the furthest, seemingly pristine parts of the globe. It repels Arctic sea ice and is found inside the fish in the Mariana Trench, the deepest depression in the ocean. There is no international agreement to address this issue, but delegations meeting in Nairobi for this month’s UN Conference on the Environment are expected to begin talks on a global plastics treaty.
WWF sought to enhance action cases with its latest report, which summarizes more than 2,000 individual scientific studies on the impact of plastic pollution on the ocean, biodiversity and marine ecosystems. The report now acknowledges that there is insufficient evidence to estimate its potential impact on humans. However, fossil fuel-derived materials have been found to “reach every part of the ocean, from sea level to the deep sea floor to the coastlines of the islands farthest from the poles, and can detect from the smallest plankton to the largest plankton. It was a whale.
According to some estimates, 19 to 23 million tonnes of plastic waste flow into the world’s waterways each year, the WWF report said. This is primarily due to disposable plastics, which account for more than 60% of marine pollution, but more and more countries are acting to ban their use. “In many places (we) have reached some saturation point in the marine ecosystem and are approaching levels that pose a significant threat,” said Eirik Lindebjerg, WWF’s Global Plastics Policy Manager.
He said there is a risk of “ecosystem collapse” in some places. Many have seen images of seabirds choking on plastic straws and turtles wrapped in abandoned fishing nets, but he said the danger extends to the entire marine food web.
“It will affect not only whales, seals and turtles, but also large schools of fish and the animals that depend on them,” he added. A 2021 study found that of the 555 species tested, 386 fish consumed plastic. Another study examining major commercially caught species found that up to 30% of cod samples captured in the North Sea had microplastics in their stomachs.
Once in the water, the plastic begins to deteriorate and becomes smaller and smaller until it becomes “nanoplastic” that is invisible to the naked eye. Therefore, even if all plastic pollution is completely stopped, the amount of marine microplastics could double by 2050.
However, according to forecasts quoted by WWF, plastic production continues to grow and could double by 2040, with marine plastic pollution expected to triple over the same period.
Lindebjerg compares this situation to a climate crisis. This is the concept of “carbon balance” that limits the maximum amount of CO2 that can be released into the atmosphere before the upper limit of global warming is exceeded. “There is actually a limit to the amount of plastic pollution our marine ecosystem can absorb,” he said. According to WWF, microplastic limits have already been reached in some parts of the world, especially in the Mediterranean, Yellow Sea, East China Sea (between China, Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula) and the Arctic Ocean ice.
“We need to treat it as a fixed system that doesn’t absorb plastic, so we need to tackle zero emissions and zero pollution as soon as possible,” says Lindeb Jarg. WWF is calling for consultations aimed at developing an international agreement on plastics at the United Nations Environmental Conference in Nairobi, February 28-March 2.
It hopes that any treaty will lead to a global standard of production and true “recyclability”. Cleaning the ocean is “very difficult and very expensive,” Lindebjerg said, adding that not polluting in the first place is better for all indicators. – AFP
https://www.kuwaittimes.com/wwf-world-must-work-together-to-tackle-plastic-ocean-threat/ WWF: The world must work together to tackle the threat of plastic oceans