Marine pollution and its extent
According to UNEP: CEP total plastic estimated to have ended up in our seas amount to 86 million tons with 439 000 tons of plastic floating on the surface. It is estimated that open ocean waters contain up to 34 million tons of plastic debris while 29 million tons end up on the sea floor and on coastlines. Coastal ocean waters amount to 23 million tons of plastic waste. All in all, open ocean waters witnesses the largest concentration of plastic waste coming from land based and sea based activities with the coastline and coastal sea waters rating second and third. Only 0.5% of all plastic was discovered floating on the surface.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of the best examples to assess the impact of plastic pollution on the Oceans and its extent.
- The patch is more than twice the size of France and is up to 16 times larger than previously estimated (The Guardian, 22 March, 2018).
- The patch contains at least 79,000 tons of plastic with fishing nets composing a great deal of it as well as other fishing industry gear, including ropes, oyster spacers, eel traps, crates, and baskets (Lebreton et al, Scientific Reports, 2018).
- Microplastics measuring less than 0.5cm (0.2in) make up 94 percent of an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch (National Geographic, March, 2018)