- Title: Ocean pollution risks "collapse and extinction" of marine life: Greenpeace
- Date: 9th August 2019
- Summary: AT SEA, SARGASSO SEA (JULY 31, 2019) (REUTERS) CREW ON THE MV ESPERANZA PREPARING TO LAUNCH A MANTA TRAWL DEVICE MANTA TRAWL DEVICE LIFTED OVER THE SIDE OF THE SHIP CRANE OPERATOR MANTA TRAWL DEVICE LOWERED INTO THE SEA VARIOUS OF SHANE ANTONITION, RESEARCH ASSISTANT AT BERMUDA AQUARIUM, MUSEUM AND ZOO WATCHING THE OPERATION VARIOUS OF THE MANTA TRAWL DEVICE IN THE WATER (SOUNDBITE) (English) SHANE ANTONITION, RESEARCH ASSISTANT AT BERMUDA AQUARIUM, MUSEUM AND ZOO SAYING: "What we are primarily doing out here on the Esperanza is we are doing a 'Manta trawl' so we are skimming the surface of the water for any plastic particles that are floating just below the ocean surface and we did a test trawl yesterday and were immediately surprised in the amount of plastic we were finding after such a short duration. We found 153 microplastic particles and a further 18 macroplastic particles that accumulated just over a 10 minute trawl. So now we're doing a full duration trawl and we'll be able to identify the amount of plastic particles that are floating over a certain area of the ocean surface." LABORATORY INSIDE A CONTAINER ON DECK ANTONITION EXAMINING PLASTIC FIBRE ANTONITION AND COLLEAGUE EXAMINING PLASTIC POLLUTION RECOVERED DURING TRAWL PARTICLES RECOVERED DURING TRAWL IN A SIEVE GREENPEACE RESEARCHER PLACING PARTICLE ON A PAPER GRID RINSING SARGASSUM SEAWEED ANTONITION EXAMINING MICROPLASTIC PARTICLE WITH MAGNIFYING GLASS VARIOUS OF PLASTIC FIBRE VIEWED THROUGH MAGNIFYING GLASS (SOUNDBITE) (English) SHANE ANTONITION, RESEARCH ASSISTANT AT BERMUDA AQUARIUM, MUSEUM AND ZOO SAYING: "It's quite terrifying when we're looking at this beautiful, pristine blue water and out of our eyesight is this hidden pollution of plastic that's accumulating in our oceans."
- Embargoed: 23rd August 2019 10:10
- Keywords: climate change climate emergency plastic plastic pollution Greenpeace Sargasso Sea Atlantic Ocean
- Location: AT SEA, SARGASSO SEA / INTERNET
- City: AT SEA, SARGASSO SEA / INTERNET
- Country: At Sea
- Topics: Environment,Climate Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA002ARHWDAZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The Sargasso Sea in the north Atlantic Ocean is a trove of biodiversity and marine life. But the pristine azure waters belie the environmental catastrophe lurking below, according to environmental campaigners.
The Sargasso is in a unique environment in the North Atlantic gyre, a whirlpool-like circular ocean current that draws in and traps debris from Africa, Europe and North America. Any plastic pollution sucked in is continuously broken by the churning current until it becomes microplastic; small enough to be ingested by marine life and enter the food chain.
As the United Nations prepares to meet in New York this month to continue discussions into a new Global Ocean Treaty, environmental campaign group Greenpeace is demanding they act to protect the world's oceans.
The group are backing calls to protect 30 percent of the oceans by 2030, a target called for by scientists and a growing number of governments as the minimum needed to halt the damage being done by harmful human activity.
Greenpeace is currently sailing one of their ships from pole to pole to highlight the threats to oceans, including climate change, overfishing, plastic pollution, deep sea mining and oil drilling.
The MV Esperanza is currently in the Sargasso Sea, assisting scientists to study the levels and impact of plastic pollution.
"It's quite terrifying when we're looking at this beautiful, pristine blue water and out of our eyesight is this hidden pollution of plastic that's accumulating in our oceans," Shane Antonition, a researcher at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo told Reuters on board the Esperanza.
A ten minute trawl with a specially designed 5m long net found 153 microplastic particles and a further 18 macroplastic particles.
The Greenpeace Protect the Oceans Campaign says the Sargasso Sea is a crucial spawning ground for eels and needs protecting.
"If you take any particular country in the world, whether that's the United States or Russia or Japan or Bermuda, there's laws that if there's a special reef or a special place that whales are migrating, that country could create a marine protected area or an ocean sanctuary. But if you want to do the same thing in the high seas there's no international legal framework to do that," said Arlo Hemphill, Senior Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace USA.
Greenpeace says international waters, outside territorial control, are home to marine life that drives the ocean's biological pump and helps regulate the planet's temperature.
They say sanctuaries covering 30 percent of the high seas could help the oceans recover and that the plan is feasible.
"If the U.N. doesn't act we risk catastrophe in the oceans, we risk collapse and extinction of multiple species of fish. We're already looking even now at losing the majority of big fish seafood by 2040. We could potentially lose whale populations that we've worked so hard to bring back from the brink throughout the 20th century and most of all we risk our human populations, especially poor coastal populations that depend on fish protein for food," Hemphill said.
This month's U.N. meeting will prepare the ground for final meeting to agree a global ocean treaty next year.
(Production: Stuart McDill)
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