From the rver to sea without litter, we are part of the solution

Marine litter is one of the sources of pollution problems more diffused by the planet, however, it is one for which individual citizens can be part of the solution.

Marine litter is one of the sources of pollution problems more diffused by the planet, however, it is one for which individual citizens can be part of the solution.

The oceans cover approximately 70% of the Earth's surface and are an extraordinary source of resources. The ocean supports activities such as the fishing industry and multiple coastal economies, providing recreational opportunities and serving as a habitat for a myriad of marine plants and animals, but unfortunately, the oceans are under intense pressure. The apparent vastness of the oceans led to overestimated their ability to absorb the waste of all Humanity. For too long the waters of the oceans were used as a depot for debris and waste of all of us. It is estimated that around the world there are approximately 100 to 140 million tonnes of marine litter. We need to take measures to reverse this condition!

In a not too distant past, the litter on the beaches and along inland waterways was considered unpleasant to look at, but without the perception of its real consequences. Through research and education, people were noting that the marine debris can cause serious impacts on marine life, human health and economic activities.

Fishing nets, headgear, bags and plastic strips abandoned, as well as other debris can suffocate and crush coral reefs and sensitive ecosystems of marine plants and their benthic species. Every year, thousands of marine animals are entangled, strangled, or ingesting various forms of debris.

Medical, sanitary and hygiene debris related, such as syringes, cotton swabs, fragments of glass and plastic, among others, represent a danger to anyone who frequents the beaches when they are left or dragged to the coast. The coastal communities have losses when the beaches have to be closed for cleaning, and the fishing industry has to absorb the annual costs resulting from damage to the vessels caused by floating debris and abandoned and for loss of fishing gears.

Although the marine litter is one of the sources of pollution problems more diffused by the planet is one for which individual citizens can be part of the solution because the source of all the marine litter can be traced back to a single source - people. In the last ten years, the composition of the majority of solid waste produced is durable synthetic materials which can remain in the environment for several hundreds of years continuously threatening the ecosystems.

To meet this challenge it is necessary to have a broad package of measures and the creative force of civil society. The fight against marine litter can only be done by intensifying further efforts to implement measures to prevent the use of plastics in the packaging industry, clothing, in products of personal hygiene and cleaning and in many other consumer goods. It is essential more and better information to consumers as well as environmental education for which there is an effective awareness for the protection of the marine environment and the consequent change of behaviour.

Useful Links

Associação Portuguesa do Lixo Marinho   http://www.aplixomarinho.org/
Waste Free Oceans   http://www.wastefreeoceans.eu/
European Commission  https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/maritimeforum/en/node/4025
European Environment Agency  http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/coast_sea/marine-litterwatch
UN Environment  https://www.unenvironment.org/explore-topics/oceans-seas/what-we-do/addressing-land-based-pollution/global-partnership-marine
Marine Conservation Society (UK)  http://www.mcsuk.org/

Projects

Fishing for litter  http://www.kimointernational.org/fishing-for-litter/
MARLISCO www.marlisco.eu
Project AWARE  http://www.projectaware.org/update/what-eu-can-do-stop-marine-litter

Non-governmental organizations with actions related to the Marine Litter

Local Authorities International Environmental Organisation  http://www.kimointernational.org/Home.aspx
ONG Global Garbage  http://www.globalgarbage.org/praia/
Seas at Risk  http://www.seas-at-risk.org/