Plastic waste, toxic pollution and over fishing are
tipping Britain's seas towards 'ecological disaster', a
hard-hitting report warns.
The Marine Conservation Society says that without urgent
action, a growing number of fish, mammals and birds will be
driven to extinction over the next few decades.
The society wants a drastic cut in the use of plastic
packaging to protect wildlife and an end to 'damaging'
fishing practices that lead to hundreds of thousands of tons
being thrown back into the sea each year.
The 60-page report follows The
Mail's campaign to reduce the amount
of plastic bags littering the seas.
Dr Simon Brockington, author of
the report, said the threats posed
by litter, overfishing and the lack
of habitat protection were 'very
'Too many fish are taken from the
sea, too much rubbish is thrown into
the sea and too little is done to
protect precious marine life and
habitats. We have to act now,' he
According to the Silent Seas
report, plastic litter has become a
major pollutant and can cause a
'catastrophe' when it is swallowed
by turtles or whales, or when it
ensnares marine life.
Plastic beach litter has increased
by 126 per cent since the first
annual MCS Beachwatch campaign in
1994, while more than 90 per cent of
gannet nests on Grassholm Island in
the Bristol Channel contain plastic
litter, the report said.
and whales frequently mistake
plastic bags for food and swallow
them. The bags fill up their
stomachs and they starve to death.
Plastics are also poisoning the
seas. Bags and plastic litter break
down into smaller and smaller
fragments in the oceans which can
absorb toxic chemicals from sea
water - leading to high
concentrations in plastic particles
which are then ingested by creatures
and enter the food chain.
This plastic 'dust' is now found
on almost every beach in the world.
Even beaches that appear clean can
have up to 5,000 fibres of plastic
in a litre of sand, the report said.
Oceans are increasingly under
threat from toxic chemicals, sewage
discharges into the sea, oil,
radioactive waste and urban and
agricultural run-off, it adds.
Around a third of estuaries and
15 per cent of coastal waters are at
risk from pollution by nutrients,
pesticides, organic pollutants and
heavy metals, the report said.
It also highlighted the threat
from overfishing and damaging
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