Ocean Currents » marine debris http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 21 Apr 2017 20:52:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Support Research to Stop Ocean Pollution http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/04/03/support-research-to-stop-ocean-pollution/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/04/03/support-research-to-stop-ocean-pollution/#comments Mon, 03 Apr 2017 14:00:56 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=14070

Science does not lie. It’s unbiased and based on what is. And the science shows there’s no doubt about it: ocean pollution is a big problem.

Scientists have recorded nearly 700 species of marine wildlife that have been affected by marine debris. With an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic waste entering the ocean every year from land, that means marine species will be living in an ocean that could contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish by 2025!

And there’s much more to the problem than floating bags, bottles and fishing nets—as many as 51 trillion pieces of microplastic (plastic pieces less than five millimeters) now circulate in the ocean. The sources of these microplastics are diverse, resulting from large products breaking into smaller pieces or the shedding of microfibers from tires and even yoga pants.

Fortunately, we’re not the only ones worried about ocean plastic pollution. Just this week, four leading senators introduced bi-partisan legislation to help solve this problem. The Marine Debris Act Amendments of 2017 was introduced by Senator Sullivan (R-AK), Sen. Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sen. Booker (D-NJ).

This legislation will support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) research to better understand the impacts of this growing threat and identify solutions to stop the flow of plastic waste into our ocean, including reducing and better managing solid municipal waste.

Take action today by telling your Senators to support this important piece of legislation.

For more than 30 years, Ocean Conservancy has been at the forefront of solutions targeting marine debris with partner organizations and individuals around the world. Starting with our first International Coastal Cleanup on the beach of South Padre Island, Texas, we have helped mobilize nearly 12 million volunteers in support of preventing marine debris.

No American wants to visit a polluted beach this summer and this legislation will support NOAA’s continued efforts to help stop the marine debris crisis.

Taking action and working together will help us move towards a healthier, more resilient ocean for ourselves and for future generations.

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Ocean Trash: It’s Not OK http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/02/21/ocean-trash-its-not-ok/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/02/21/ocean-trash-its-not-ok/#comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 16:25:02 +0000 Erin Spencer http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13761

“It’s not ok to destroy our ocean. It’s not one person’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem.” — Kelly Slater, world champion surfer and Outerknown founder

Kelly Slater knows something about a healthy ocean. As an 11-time World Surf League Champion, Slater has spent countless hours in marine environments all over the world and seen how beautiful—and damaged—the ocean can be. He has seen first-hand the massive amounts of marine debris and plastic that end up in our ocean, threatening wildlife from whales to plankton. And that, says Slater, is not OK.

When Slater joined menswear designer John Moore to found the Outerknown clothing brand, their mission was simple, yet monumental: to view every aspect of the business through the lens of responsibility. By developing stylish yet sustainable products, their goal was to help protect our natural resources, empower the people crafting the clothes and inspire positive change within the industry.

Now, Outerknown is joining forces with Ocean Conservancy to launch the #ITSNOTOK program to raise awareness about the massive environmental problem of marine trash and inspire people to take action and clean up our ocean.

There’s no doubt about it: ocean plastic pollution is a big problem. An estimated eight million metric tons of plastic waste flow from land into the ocean every year, meaning that by 2025 there could be one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish. And there’s much more to the problem than floating bags, bottles and fishing nets—as many as 51 trillion pieces of microplastic (plastic pieces less than five mm) now circulate in the ocean.

Here at Ocean Conservancy, we’ve been fighting back against ocean pollution for over 30 years. Our annual International Coastal Cleanup has mobilized nearly 12 million volunteers all around the world and has prevented 220 million pounds of trash from flowing into the ocean. But it’s going to take a coordinated effort from all types of stakeholders, including industry, to truly tackle the massive problem of ocean trash.

Outerknown’s new #ITSNOTOK collection includes products developed from sustainable materials like organic cotton. 100% of the profits from the sale of these products will be donated to Ocean Conservancy to support our work to conserve our ocean.

“We’re thrilled to be the first recipients of Outerknown’s #ITSNOTOK campaign to tackle the crisis of marine debris,” said Andreas Merkl, CEO of Ocean Conservancy. “The ocean is part of all of us and every single person can help make a positive difference to our ocean and coastal communities.”

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Our Next Wave in Tackling Marine Debris http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/02/14/our-next-wave-in-tackling-marine-debris/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/02/14/our-next-wave-in-tackling-marine-debris/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 17:46:44 +0000 Susan Ruffo http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13744

Trash and plastic waste is unfortunately everywhere in our ocean. From our coasts to the Arctic, to the deepest part of the ocean, marine debris is a growing, global problem. Without concerted efforts to combat marine debris now, the volume of plastic waste entering our ocean will only grow.

Roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter our ocean each year. Most of that is trash that is never collected, but instead is thrown into city streets or rural areas, or even directly into our rivers and seas. Clearly, the lack of effective waste management is one of the greatest challenges we face in tackling this global issue. Our research in 2015 revealed that if key countries in Asia Pacific improve their waste management, we could halve the flow of plastic into our ocean by 2025. Good waste management—including effectively picking up and sorting trash—is also essential for a future in which waste can be recovered and repurposed. Effective waste management can also deliver public health, economic development and climate benefits. But, what can we do to ensure this becomes reality?

Ocean Conservancy has been working with partners around the world to identify the barriers to effective waste management, including financing, and to provide a roadmap for how businesses, governments and nonprofits can come together around this issue as a key piece of solving the ocean plastic problem. When paired with efforts to reduce and reuse waste, these efforts will allow us to take a great leap forward in protecting the ocean, the climate and public health.

An initiative of the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, The Next Wave: Investment Strategies for Plastic Free Seas presents thoughtful, thorough analysis designed to lay out options to more easily attract investment to effective waste management in key regions. The report outlines the challenges associated with financing effective waste management and identifies options to attract new investments for it in developing Asia-Pacific economies. Building off the work in Stemming the Tide, our hope is that The Next Wave will help to change the way municipal waste systems can be designed to attract more public, entrepreneurial and private sector interest.

Connecting funds to waste management projects in areas where the need is greatest has proven to be a great challenge. With a multi-sector approach, enduring and innovative waste management systems can be realized, and these systems will help stem the tide of plastic waste into our ocean while also improving the health and prosperity of local communities.

No one organization or sector can solve this problem alone, but with combined efforts and renewed thinking, we can remove a key barrier to preventing marine debris.

Please join us on this next wave forward, and together we’ll move even closer to a future of trash free seas.

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Thanks for a Fantastic International Coastal Cleanup! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/20/thanks-for-a-fantastic-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/20/thanks-for-a-fantastic-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:00:37 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12890

Thank YOU! This weekend, we wrapped up another spectacular International Coastal Cleanup. Thank you so much to all of our volunteers and supporters who came out to make a difference for our ocean.

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out all over the world to clean up their local beaches and waterways.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the International Coastal Cleanup. I am so grateful to have allies like you joining me in the fight against marine debris. While beach cleanups alone can’t solve the ocean trash problem, they are an integral piece to the overall solution.

From all of us at Ocean Conservancy – Thank You! See photos from International Coastal Cleanups below:

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Join the International Coastal Cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/14/join-the-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/14/join-the-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Wed, 14 Sep 2016 13:30:42 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12690

Written by Tori Glascock

Does all of this trash talk have you feeling down in the dumps? For 30 years, Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), has helped keep trash off our beaches and out of the ocean!

Volunteers from states and territories throughout the U.S. and more than 100 countries come together each year and participate in an ICC event near them. You can sign up to clean up or propose a new cleanup site! Three decades of Cleanups have yielded more than 210 million pounds of trash being collected and saved from polluting our ocean. Over 11.5 million volunteers have covered more than 360,000 miles of coastlines across the world.

In 2015 alone, beach, underwater and watercraft volunteers covered 25,188 miles and picked up 18,062,939 million pounds of trash. A plethora of plastic items was found including beverage bottles, bottle caps, straws, bags and utensils. Changes to daily habits such as Skipping the Straw when you go out to restaurants, using reusable water bottles instead of disposable plastic ones and using reusable grocery bags will make a huge impact on helping to decrease the amount of trash that is reaching our ocean.

This year the 31st International Coastal Cleanup will take place on September 17th, 2016. Join in for a day of sun, fun and conserving the ocean!

If you can’t make it to an ICC site, you can do your own cleanup! The International Coastal Cleanup may only be once a year but that is not the only time the coasts need cleaning up. Become a champion of your ocean and keep it trash free all year long. Every piece matters too! Through our mobile data collection app, Clean Swell, each item you pick up and log is one less piece of trash in the ocean and one more step towards trash free seas.

The best thing that you can do for the ocean is to pick up any trash you see, reduce-reuse-recycle and remember that all waterways lead to the ocean! Simple habit changes can have a huge positive impact on our mission to conserve the ocean.

See you at a Cleanup site on September 17th, 2016.

Check out this informative infographic to learn more about the impact of the International Coastal Cleanup.

Tori Glascock is a 2016 Ocean Conservancy Summer Intern. 

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The Impact of Ocean Trash http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/03/the-impact-of-ocean-trash/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/03/the-impact-of-ocean-trash/#comments Sat, 03 Sep 2016 13:30:54 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12686 Marine debris litters a beach on Laysan Island in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, where it washed ashore.

Photo: Susan White / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Written by Tori Glascock

Before there was a waste collection system in place on land, trash was left in the streets and disease was rampant. Similarly, the trash we are dumping into the ocean is having catastrophic effects on the animals that call the ocean home and the people who rely on oceanic ecosystems to sustain their livelihood.

Chief among the problems that ocean trash presents is the inability of ocean animals like sea turtles, seabirds and seals to distinguish what is food and what is trash. First and foremost, these animals should not have to make this distinction as there should not be such an abundance of our trash in the ocean—but we are passed that point and now must find ways to combat this issue.

Balloons and plastic bags appear as a favorite food to turtles and seabirds but prove to be hazardous once ingested. Not only does consuming a balloon cause internal damage, but the string attached to it also lends itself to be an entangling hazard were it to get stuck around an animal’s neck. Other plastic objects including bottle caps, straws and plastic utensils are equally as dangerous to marine life. Last year alone, Ocean Conservancy volunteers collected more than half a million straws and stirrers which are eaten by sea turtles and seabirds, and are even known to clog up the nostrils of turtles. Pledge to Skip the Straw and help limit the amount of straws that get into our ocean!

Seabirds, including gulls, are notoriously known to eat anything they come across, even your sandwich on the beach! These days it is a seemingly destructive characteristic to have because a portion of what they are eating is plastic. The plastic sits in their stomachs and can eventually lead to death. It is estimated that by 2050, 99% of all species of seabirds will be eating plastic and 95% of all individual seabirds will fall victim to the harmful effects of consuming plastic. The predicted percentage of species that will consume plastic is up from the 65% that eat plastic today which is a jump from the historical average of 26%. Also not safe from ocean plastics are juvenile sea turtles, as just .5 of a gram, one one-thousandth of a pound, of ingested plastic can kill them.

In addition to plastic consumer products and packaging, abandoned fishing gear poses  a severe danger to the animals that come in contact with it. Derelict fishing gear such as old nets, lines and pots are coined as ghost gear and lead to a practice known as ghost fishing; the entanglement and capture of marine animals by fishing gear that has been left in the ocean. Scientists recently found a sperm whale with over 440 pounds of fishing gear in its stomach. If you see fishing gear float by be sure to take it out of the water and dispose of it properly!

Stay tuned for our next blog post and  learn how you can help keep our oceans trash free.

Tori Glascock is a 2016 Ocean Conservancy Summer Intern. 

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The Problem of Ocean Trash http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/08/22/the-problem-of-ocean-trash/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/08/22/the-problem-of-ocean-trash/#comments Mon, 22 Aug 2016 14:04:36 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12665

Written by Tori Glascock

Each year an estimated 8 million metric tons, or 17 billion pounds, of plastic flows into the ocean. Enough is enough.

First and foremost, an endless flow of trash into the ocean will affect the health of humans and wildlife alike as well as compromise the livelihoods that depend on a healthy ocean. Trash and debris such as fishing gear, straws, and plastic bags pose a deadly threat to marine life. Fishing gear can trap helpless sea turtles and cut through flesh of whales, while plastic bags are easily mistaken as food and consumed by animals. Straws can be hazardous in that they can get stuck in a nostril, a blowhole, an eye, or even a throat.

80% of ocean trash is a product of land based sources (trash coming from activities on land) including the items listed above—plastic bags, straws, bottles—plastics that are used once and then discarded can end up in the ocean. Marine based pollution (trash reaching the ocean by activities done in the ocean) accounts for 20% of ocean trash, coming from marine vessels, cruise ships, and ocean-based industry such as oil rigs. Not surprisingly, 75% of land based ocean plastic is from uncollected waste that makes its way to waterways eventually reaching the ocean. The other 25% comes from waste that was collected but escaped the system, suggesting that there is work to be done on our waste management system. A complete overview of these statistics can be found in our Stemming the Tide report. If we don’t change our lifestyles soon, there could be one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish in the ocean by 2025.

The idea of trash in the ocean is intrinsically associated with giant islands of trash floating in remote places, never reaching life-forms again. Contrary to popular belief this is entirely not the case. Not only does ocean plastic and debris span from the water’s surface all the way to the sea floor, but it fragments into small microplastics—plastic particles smaller than five mm in diameter. Think of microplastics like a posting to the web. Once you put something on the internet it is there forever, no matter how buried it may seem to get. Plastic that reaches the ocean is the same. Although it may seem to have disappeared, it has really only continued to breakdown into smaller and smaller pieces that will infiltrate the marine ecosystem for the foreseeable future.

Take a deep dive into the problem of ocean trash in the infographic below! It is interactive so click on something to learn more!

Tori Glascock is a 2016 Ocean Conservancy Summer Intern. 

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