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New Study Reveals Extent of Plastic Pollution Threat to Seabirds

September 1, 2015
Environmental Protection

beach pollution plasticA new study has revealed that by the middle of the century, 99% of seabirds will have consumed some form of plastic waste from the world’s oceans.

Researchers have already found traces of plastic pollution in the stomachs of nine out of ten sea birds, which seriously affects their ability to reproduce successfully. The study, undertaken by scientists from Australia and the UK and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reviewed decades of literature comparing pollution risk hotspots with known areas of foraging for 186 seabird species. Dr Erik Van Sebille, who led the study, said, “A pristine ocean doesn’t exist anymore. Every ocean is now filled with plastic. Some have more than others, but what we found is that even the oceans that are not known for their plastic – they still have quite a bit of plastic and they can be where the harm is really done just because that’s where all the birds live.”

The problem has increased exponentially in the past 50 years, with data from 1960 showing only five percent of birds to be affected.

Previous studies concluded that the areas of greatest risk were the centres of the great oceans where most waste collects, but the new study shows that the figures produced were misleading. The zones of highest concern are now thought to be in the Southern Ocean near Australia, South Africa and South America, where most birds congregate.

Scientists believe solutions to the problem include improving solid waste management and working upstream on product redesign and materials substitution, moving towards a more circular system.

You can view the full study HERE