Plastic has become one of the major polluters in the oceans. It becomes a danger to the environment and health. The danger arises from wrong handling and poor waste management on land. It requires the combination of political and regulatory measures and new consumer awareness on the subject of plastics.
Millions of tons of plastic are floating on the oceans, accumulated by ocean currents in 5 huge swirls.
Plastic waste not only on the surface: Much of it decays and deposits on the ground floating, floating.
Efforts must be stepped up to tackle the various causes of marine pollution. And that’s not just plastic but also the pollution with long-lived organic matter, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, nitrates, radioactive substances, dangerous wreckage, etc. In particular we, along with many well-known scientists and the Global Ocean Commission, demand that the countries working together in the world. Together, we must prevent plastics from getting into the oceans: this is where all governments, the economy, and civil society are required:
- Reduction of disposable plastic through legislative measures and incentive schemes for consumers.
- Creating incentives for more recycling and tighter producer responsibility
- Introduction of quantitative and temporal specifications for pollutant reductions
- Improvement of waste management
- Promotion of a new consumer perception
- Support and dissemination of various local initiatives to reduce or eliminate certain plastic materials (eg prohibition of disposable bags, polyurethane foam packaging, etc.) as well as cleaning actions on beaches and riverbanks.
- Support innovation to reduce plastic and avoid packaging.
- Through taxes, duties and other means, a global Maritime Responsibility Fund must be set up to organize waste management in the high seas, coordinate national measures against plastic waste, support sustainability initiatives and change the behavior of production and consumption.
Where does the plastic go?
THERE ARE 5 LARGE PLASTIC STROLLERS IN THE WORLD SEAS. THE PACIFIC PLASTIC STUDY IS THE BIGGEST OF THEM.
Source: 5 Gyres and the Global Ocean Commission. The Pacific plastic whirlpool is said to be larger than Germany by area.
The problem of ghost nets & Co.
Plastic is also very popular in fishing. Nets are mostly made of plastics, as are the long lines and large buoys or pontoons used to attract large fish such as tuna (“fish aggregating device”, FAD). With the help of FADs, around one million tonnes of tuna are caught every year, which corresponds to about one-third of all tuna catches.
Nets, FADs and other fishing materials end up as garbage in the sea, intentionally or accidentally. On the other hand, we have to protect the oceans as well as the plastic garbage from the land.
That’s why we demand:
- States and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations are to define guidelines for the design of FADs that will ensure that bycatch is minimized. These include, for example, the ban on fixed underwater nets on FADs and the definition of permissible mesh size for net fishing in the area of FADs.
- Providing incentives for the use of natural, rapidly degradable materials in the construction of FADs. For this, the degradable materials must be subsidized or the use of non-degradable materials taxed higher.
- Promote research on alternative production materials for FAD floats, perhaps as part of general programs to develop more compatible fisheries methods.
- Extension of the international MARPOL (Marine Pollution) program, which already in 1973 issued a ban internationally on the disposal of plastic waste, nets, and linen. Regulations should be found to allow ports to provide free, safe disposal of defective fishing equipment.
- Documentation of all deployed FADs and mandatory equipment of all new FADs with tracking technology, so that they can be found again at any time.
- Lost networks must be reported already now. However, this requirement is currently only met inadequately and must become binding.