Environmental groups and scientists are calling for immediate action on marine plastic pollution through a senate inquiry. The inquiry, called for by Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Wish-Wilson, highlights the dangers polluted oceans can have on our health.
Dr Jennifer Lavers, research fellow at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, is one of the experts making a submission to the inquiry, and she claims that we could be consuming plastic through the fish we eat.
Dr Lavers spoke to SMH, and stated that 30 per cent of all marine fish in the world are considered to have plastic in their stomachs. This leads her to conclude, with “no doubt we are eating residual plastic contamination”.
She goes on to state that other estimates suggest if you are consuming an average amount of seafood you will ingest “about 11,000 plastic particles each year”.
Mr Wish-Wilson told SMH he wants the inquiry to create a plan to combat this issue, “I’d like to see a fully co-ordinated national plan where the government shows leadership on investing in research and monitoring the collection of information, this was supposed to happen in 2009.”
SMH reports that government sponsored studies estimate between 8700 and 11,900 tonnes of litter enter our oceans every year, litter which works its way up the food chain; being consumed by fish and other marine life that we eat.
CSIRO, Total Environment Centre, Clean Up Australia, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and local councils are just some of the groups that have made submissions to the inquiry. These environmental groups predict that Australia’s marine plastic pollution can be reduced by more than 50 per cent within three to five years as long as proper intervention takes place.
Boomerang Alliance national policy director, Dave West also spoke to SMH saying, “Conservatively, we can identify at least 56,000 tonnes of plastic entering our environment every year, [including] beverage litter, tyre dust, synthetic fibres, production waste, microbeads and plastic bags.”
They, along with other groups, are using the inquiry to call for container deposit schemes, banning single use plastic bags and microbeads in laundry and cosmetic products.
“We are definitely behind the eight-ball,” Dr Lavers told SMH, “numerous other developed and developing countries are substantially further ahead”.
“My fear is we continue to debate this for the next 20 years. We have to start somewhere, set goals and keep moving forward.”