More than a hundred different marine species in the Mediterranean ingest plastic every day.
The Mediterranean basin is characterised by high biodiversity and is unfortunately one of the most threatened ecosystems by plastic waste globally. A new research, to date the most extensive and up-to-date on the Mediterranean, has analysed 128 documents related to the impact of this waste on 329 categories of organisms.
The disconcerting results were included in the “Plastics in the aquatic Environment– Current Status and challenges”, a volume which updates the scientific literature on the consequences of our plastic waste on the life of the Mediterranean Sea.
According to the study carried out by several researchers, there are at least 116 species which eat plastics.
Of these, 59% are fish that end up on our tables such as red mullet, cod, tuna, sea bream, sardines, shrimp and prawns. The remaining 41% includes other mammals, crustaceans and molluscs, as well as jellyfish, turtles and birds.
Plastic that ends up in the stomach of animals is already a problem in itself and also carries pathogenic bacteria that can cause diseases in fish that ingest it. The researchers found 168 different categories of micro-organisms transported by floating objects, mainly made of plastic, even in environments where they have never been detected before.
In addition to being ingested, plastic can trap animals: researchers estimate that at least 44 marine species are subject to entrapment in fishing nets and other waste. Animals that get entangled can no longer move and get food and often die from strangulation of malnutrition.
In addition, lines, fishing nets and other waste in marine waters can injure and suffocate coral and gorgonian colonies in remote and deep Mediterranean locations.
Among the species most threatened by waste is the sea turtle Caretta caretta, one of the most prone to entrapment and ingestion of plastic.
Several other species affected by waste are included in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), such as red coral, spinarol, sperm whale and bluefin tuna.
According to ISPRA (Superior Institute for Environment Protection and Research, Italy), world plastic production has increased from 15 million in 1964 to more than 310 million today, and at least 8 million tonnes a year pollute the world’s oceans.
Our seas are full of plastic due to overproduction of food packaging and disposable products and mismanagement of waste.
The European Union has adopted a directive to eliminate disposable plastic, which is one of the main waste found in the Mediterranean, but further efforts are needed to reduce the production and use of plastic.
All of us can do something by avoiding buying disposable plastic items and trying to choose products without packaging or packaging made of materials other than plastic. (source: Greenme.it)
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