‘Unique’ study shows rise of bags, rope and nets polluting oceans | UK News
The number of large plastic items such as bags, rope and netting that are polluting the world’s oceans is increasing, scientists have found.
They made the discovery by towing a metre-long machine through 6.5 million nautical miles of water over the last 62 years.
The “unique” study shows the growing threat of plastics to ocean life, economies and human well-being.
It said long-term investigations into plastic debris were “virtually non-existent” and sought to track their rise over the decades.
The machine – known as a continuous plankton recorder – has been towed off the back of ferries and cargo ships.
It passes through the ocean at seven metres deep, counting the amount of plankton and plastics that get tangled up in it.
The design is the same as it has been since 1931, when such experiments started.
Dr Clare Ostle, the study’s lead author, hailed the importance of decades-long data-gathering.
Professor Richard Thompson, who leads the international marine litter research unit at the University of Plymouth, said ocean litter varied “highly” across the years and location.
But he confirmed the number of bigger plastic items found in earth’s oceans is “increasing”.
“Having robust evidence such as this is essential to help inform policy interventions on a global scale,” the academic added.
The findings were published in a joint study with the Marine Biological Association in the Nature Communications journal.
:: 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.