Garbage in the Ocean – Littering marine wilderness

A recent research co-funded by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme under the HERMIONE project found worrying evidences of garbage in the oceans around Europe. Our litter reaches even high seas before we are discovering them!

The research unit led by Christopher Pham from the Marine Research Institute from the Azores looked the occurrence of garbage in the ocean paying attention on litter covering the seafloor. This has been far less investigated than in surface waters or on beaches, principally because of the high cost and the technical difficulties involved in sampling the seafloor at bathyal and abyssal depths. Unfortunately places which we have not discovered yet were found full of the evidences of our overuse of resources.

Samples of litter found during the research

Interestingly the research results showed that there were significant differences in litter composition between physiographic settings! Our garbage in the ocean basically reached every sampling location around Europe. Litter was found at all sites and all depths (from 35 m down to 4500 m) sampled.

There was a high variability in the composition of litter across the different sites. A total of 546 litter items were encountered throughout all sites surveyed with imaging technology. Plastic and derelict fishing gear were the most abundant litter items. Plastic represented 41% of the litter items, whilst derelict fishing gear accounted for 34% of the total.

The full report is available here.

Vlado Vancura

Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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