Section of the Garbage Patch in 2019.
Our oceans are swirling concoctions of waste that scientists have for years reported are fed by an influx of pollution from both the land and the sea.
But working out what rubbish winds up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific, where it comes from, and who is responsible is an ongoing challenge. Now a new study further implicates the global fishing industry in the mix.
“Here we show that most floating plastics in the North Pacific subtropical gyre can be traced back to five industrialized fishing nations,” data scientist Laurent Lebreton and colleagues write.
When analyzing 573 kilograms of (dry) hard plastic debris collected by Lebreton and The Ocean Cleanup organization in 2019, the researchers found more than a quarter of the fragments were from ‘abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear’ (aka ALDFG) – and that’s not including discarded fishing nets and ropes.
This waste category includes items like oyster spacers, eel traps, and lobster and fish tags, as well as plastic floats and buoys.
Another third of the debris was unidentifiable.
When the authors used computer models to simulate how their samples ended up in the patch, they found that a plastic fragment was 10 times more likely to originate from fishing activities than land-based ones.Continue reading… “Much of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’s Plastic Comes From These 5 Countries”