Today is World Environment Day – a day to appreciate all that is magical about the natural world that surrounds us but also a day for us all to take a long, hard look at the effects our lifestyles are having on the planet.
One of the major growing threats, to both humans and wildlife, is marine debris. The amount of waste and especially plastic waste in our oceans is unprecedented and our wildlife is suffering as a result. Whales, dolphins, birds and turtles are all being found with stomachs full of plastic – in 2013 a sperm whale that washed up on the south coast of Spain was found to have consumed over 17kg of plastic waste, including several plastic bags, a clothes hanger, an ice-cream tub and nine metres of rope. In addition to plastic, more and more animals are being found entangled in discarded or lost fishing gear. For most this will likely involve a subsequently slow, painful and lingering death.
Two opinion pieces that discuss marine debris in some depth and that are well worth a read on this auspicious day come from …
Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. Mr Chambers discusses the impact of the growing problem of marine debris on islands’ wildlife and the economic and environmental consequences.
Dr. Wendy Watson-Wright, Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) talks about the consequences of these vast quantities of trash bobbing around the ocean, both for humans and wildlife, and points to what she regards as the only way to solve the problem.
The problem is not going to go away without some serious engagement on behalf of society and Governments – on this World Environment Day 2014 why not try to do your bit?