The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a press release 11 August about what the research ship Dr Fridtjof Nansen is finding in the southern Indian Ocean – and the news isn’t good – for life in the sea or for the human food supply chain.
Giant ‘gyres’ of rubbish – estimated at twice the size of Texas – have been found in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, but little work has yet been done on the Indian Ocean until now. The research team used a special net to take samples and found plastic particles in all of the areas they sampled.
To quote the FAO press release:
An estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently float in the world’s oceans, up from none in 1950 and posing a question about their potential impact on a food supply chain that stretches from plankton – which have been filmed eating plastic pellets – up through shellfish, salmon, tuna and eventually humans, not to mention whales.
Laboratory tests have shown that fish fed such plastics suffer poisoned livers and consequent metabolic problems. Yet little is known about just how much rubbish is being eaten in wild marine ecosystems, nor whether toxic chemicals remain in plastics after long exposure to sea water and pounding waves.