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#WorldOceansDay: Mediterranean could become a 'sea of plastic'

10 June 2018

Carlos M. Duarte: Because I think we have been doing a very poor exercise as a scientific community in communicating the state of the ocean where we have emphasized the many problems and the problems you mention are real problems that are affecting and impacting on the ocean.

He flagged that if our seas and oceans are not protected, and we lose the battle against climate change, all the assumptions on which our policy-making has been based "will be worthless".

The U.N. celebrates topics on certain days to bring awareness to the importance of those topics to our lives. This is understandable, given that we generally don't see the results of our own actions when it comes to plastic waste.

Beyond tourism, Antigua and Barbuda relies heavily on the water around us. They generate most of the oxygen we breathe, absorb a large share of carbon dioxide emissions, provide food and nutrients, regulate climate, and are important economically for countries that rely on tourism, fishing and other marine resources for income, and serve as the backbone of worldwide trade. "I can't eat mangroves". For example, did you know that half of the world's oxygen is produced by phytoplankton in the ocean?

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American Express prototype of the first-ever credit card made primarily with Ocean Plastic. Don't worry. We are not taking you back to science class for a nap. We can ensure that our oceans are peaceful, safe and bountiful, and remain healthy as our blue home. That would be climate change, where there's really no evidence that we're changing our trajectory; we continue to emit massive amounts of greenhouse gases and we might take a lot of action on habitat restoration but if we don't address the impact on the climate system then those other efforts might be wasted.

"Thankfully", continued Mr. Guterres "we have a battle plan". Forever must be our focus. The county government through the department of Environment is working on a framework with recyclers to prevent plastic pollution in the ocean.

Globally, eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, according to the UN Environment Programme. The effects of marine pollution are being felt on our fisheries and sea food industry. Hmmm! There is that word again.

The report outlines that large plastic pieces injure, suffocate and often kill marine animals, including protected and endangered species, such as sea turtles and monk seals but clarifies that it is microplastics - smaller and more insidious fragments - that have reached record levels of concentration of 1.25 million fragments per km2 in the Mediterranean Sea, nearly four times higher than in the "plastic island" found in the North Pacific Ocean.

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If we don't act now, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. "If you look at the Atlantic Ocean, there is already the equivalent of the French territory of plastic". For more information, visit PacificWhale.org/WorldOceansDay. That's just one story out of millions.

Like our littering and illegal dumping in Antigua and Barbuda, the vexing thing is this type of pollution is entirely in our control. Plastic pollution is entirely man-made, and, with the most minimal of effort, it can be largely controlled.

The EU has led the way in introducing legislation which restricts the use of non-biodegradable plastics, sets clear recycling targets, and encourages innovation at the design stage to transform the role plastics play in our everyday lives. In the United States and the UK, 550 million straws are thrown away every day.

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#WorldOceansDay: Mediterranean could become a 'sea of plastic'