US News Med tourists leave 'toxic legacy' of plastic pollution

05:55  08 june  2018
05:55  08 june  2018 Source:   news.sky.com

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More than 200 million people a year visit the Med , but a combination of litter on the beaches and we come home with our happy memories we're leaving behind a toxic legacy of plastic waste. Image: Santorini looks idyllic but is being badly-affected by plastic pollution . WWF is appealing to

Plastic ’s Legacy of Pollution . If we could curate the contents of human achievement for future Earth-dwellers after we’re gone, we Our ancestors left legacies of stone, iron, and bronze. But unlike other generations, we carry our toxic legacy even further: plastic is literally in our blood, a part of us.

Divers on Santorini have been removing plastic waste from the Mediterranean Sea © Sky News Screen Grab Divers on Santorini have been removing plastic waste from the Mediterranean Sea

Summer holidaymakers are responsible for sharp spike in the amount of plastic ending up in the Mediterranean Sea, new research shows.

Analysis for the WWF to mark United Nations World Oceans Day reveals that there is a 40% increase in marine litter during the tourist season, and almost all of it is plastic.

More than 200 million people a year visit the Med, but a combination of litter on the beaches and poor waste management is making the sea one of the most polluted in the world.

It holds 1% of the world's water, but contains 7% of all microplastic.

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Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF said: "The Mediterranean is a beautiful holiday destination enjoyed by millions of British people each summer, but when we come home with our happy memories we're leaving behind a toxic legacy of plastic waste.

"The birds, fish, and turtles of the Mediterranean are choking on plastic.

"Our report also shows plastic is ending up in the fish and seafood we eat on holiday."

WWF is appealing to holidaymakers to ditch straws, not to use wet wipes and think twice about buying inflatable pool toys.

Big expansion of UK 'blue belt' to protect oceans

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Slow, silent, omnipresent, ever increasing, more toxic than previously thought, the plastic pollution ’s reality bears sobering consequences, as recently unveiled by the report of Japanese This plastic micro- pollution , with its inherent toxicity and consequences on the food chain, had yet to be studied…

When plastics are used, recycled, or disposed of, or left in the environment as litter Burning plastic in incinerators releases toxic heavy metals and chemicals. There is still relatively little information on the impact of plastics pollution on the ocean’s ecosystems (Quayle, 1992; Wilber, 1987).

The charity is also concerned about abandoned ghost fishing nets that continue to catch and kill marine life. They also release tiny plastic fibres as they degrade.

Sky News joined divers on the Greek island of Santorini who were removing nets and lobster pots that have snagged on rocks.

Palestinian fishermen check their nets on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea © Getty Palestinian fishermen check their nets on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea Teams from the organisations Healthy Seas and Ghost Fishing cut the gear free and lifted it to the surface. One of the nets weighed 200kg, yet even that is just a small dent in the 640,000 tonnes a year lost at sea.

Veronika Mikos, project co-ordinator for Healthy Seas, said the most lethal of all lost fishing gear is the gill net.

She said: "You can hardly see them, so they are dangerous for animals and dangerous for divers.

"They catch the fish by their gills and that attracts other marine animals like seals and dolphins who want to feed on the fish and they themselves become entangled."

Our New Marine Conservation Zones Are An Important Addition To Britain’s Blue Belt

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Plastic pollution has a dangerous impact on wildlife, wildlife habitat, and human beings. Plastic pollution affects land, air, waterways and oceans. Similarly, the plastic waste that is thrown into the garbage for long period can leave many toxic effects for the environment.

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The nets recovered in Santorini will be recycled into a nylon yarn called Econyl, which is used to make clothing and carpets.

Conservationists from the Cousteau Divers organisation supported the ghost net mission.

The WWF says 'the birds, fish and turtles of the Mediterranean are choking on plastic' © Sky News Screen Grab The WWF says 'the birds, fish and turtles of the Mediterranean are choking on plastic' Pierre-Yves Cousteau, founder of the organisation and son of ocean explorer Jacques, is campaigning for the area to be designated a marine conservation zone - with the UK unveiling plans to protect 41 new areas along its coastline.

Overfishing has almost wiped out stocks of commercial species, but he told Sky News that creating a protected "nursery" for fish would lead to an increase in catches for fishermen in surrounding areas.

He said: "You can associated the ocean to a sick person or someone who has injured themselves.

"When you injure yourself you rest and that is how you heal.

"Creating a marine protected area does exactly the same thing.

"The fish will come back and within five years we will see an increase in the fish biomass and biodiversity."

:: Sky's Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com

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