Saving our planet; one bag at a time

October 22, 2008

Plastic bags continue to threaten marine life

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 3:14 pm

Plastic bags continue to threaten marine life

Despite rapidly growing awareness of the harm they do, plastic bags continue to wreak havoc on marine life as you will see in the following article by David Derbyshire from The Daily Mail in the UK.

From the number of large chains (Examples: Wal Mart, Ikea, Tescos) switching to ecologically friendlier options, one would have hoped for a reduction to the impact, but it looks like a lot more people will have to transition to environmentally better options. A study by the The Marine Conservation Society indicates the problem is getting worse and will require fairly rapid action.

Sad, when ecologically better alternatives are so affordable and offer so many benefits to the mail culprits – retailers.

Many retailers are beginning to realise that putting their logos on environmentally friendly reusable cotton or jute bags yields huge image benefits and quantifiably increased custom.

Perhaps they haven’t caught on to how easy and affordable it is to make the switch. If you know any retailers using plastic bags, do us and them a favour and refer them to us. We’ll help them see how much it benefits them to make the transition.

The plastic waste that has British seas on the brink of ecological disaster

By David Derbyshire

Plastic waste, toxic pollution and overfishing are tipping Britain’s seas towards ‘ecological disaster’, a hard-hitting report warns.

The Marine Conservation Society says that without urgent action, a growing number of fish, mammals and birds will be driven to extinction over the next few decades.

The society wants a drastic cut in the use of plastic packaging to protect wildlife and an end to ‘damaging’ fishing practices that lead to hundreds of thousands of tons being thrown back into the sea each year.

Banish bags: The Marine Conservation Society wants a drastic cut to the use of plastic packaging

The 60-page report follows The Mail’s campaign to reduce the amount of plastic bags littering the seas.

Dr Simon Brockington, author of the report, said the threats posed by litter, overfishing and the lack of habitat protection were ‘very real’.

‘Too many fish are taken from the sea, too much rubbish is thrown into the sea and too little is done to protect precious marine life and habitats. We have to act now,’ he said.

According to the Silent Seas report, plastic litter has become a major pollutant and can cause a ‘catastrophe’ when it is swallowed by turtles or whales, or when it ensnares marine life.

Plastic beach litter has increased by 126 per cent since the first annual MCS Beachwatch campaign in 1994, while more than 90 per cent of gannet nests on Grassholm Island in the Bristol Channel contain plastic litter, the report said.

Plastics are also poisoning the seas. Bags and plastic litter break down into smaller and smaller fragments in the oceans which can absorb toxic chemicals from sea water - leading to high concentrations in plastic particles which are then ingested by creatures and enter the food chain.

This plastic ‘dust’ is now found on almost every beach in the world. Even beaches that appear clean can have up to 5,000 fibres of plastic in a litre of sand, the report said.

Oceans are increasingly under threat from toxic chemicals, sewage discharges into the sea, oil, radioactive waste and urban and agricultural run-off, it adds.

Around a third of estuaries and 15 per cent of coastal waters are at risk from pollution by nutrients, pesticides, organic pollutants and heavy metals, the report said.

It also highlighted the threat from overfishing and damaging fishing practices.

Unpublished figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show that only eight of the 47 fish stock zones around the British Isles are in a healthy state.

A century ago, large fish such as the common skate, angel sharks, Atlantic halibut and cod bigger than three feet long were often seen in the North Sea. Now many are critically endangered.

The Marine Conservation Society called for the Government to include a Marine Bill in the Queen’s Speech and for a new body to devise a marine litter strategy. It also wants improved water treatment facilities and more sustainable fishing.

The report is backed by the Prince of Wales, the society’s president.

1 Comment »

  1. We have enough plastic on this earth. We need less plastic!

    Comment by James Klich — December 26, 2008 @ 10:23 am

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