The amount of plastic in the ocean could triple by the year 2025, according to a new report on the future of the seas. Considering there’s already over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic trash in the world's oceans, this is seriously bad news.
A new report by the UK Government Office for Science, titled Foresight Future of the Sea, has taken a look at the health of the world’s ocean and how it could affect the UK’s role in future scientific research, technology, and trade.
With levels of plastic ocean pollution set to triple between 2015 and 2025, the report warns that the current health of the oceans could have some damning implications for biodiversity, noting that there was already a 49 percent decline in marine vertebrate populations between 1970 and 2012.
Plastic litter remains one of the biggest problems facing the world's seas, along with rising sea levels, climate change, and human-made chemical pollution, such as runoff from pesticides and fertilizers from farms, industrial waste, and pharmaceuticals.
"The ocean is out of sight, out of mind," Ian Boyd, one of the study’s authors and chief scientist for the UK government's environment department, told BBC News.
"We invest a lot of money and enthusiasm for missions to space – but there's nothing living out there. The seabed is teeming with life. We really need a mission to planet ocean – it's the last frontier,” added study author Professor Edward Hill from the UK National Oceanography Centre.
Governments, industry, and the public are waking up to the grim reality that’s facing our oceans, however, the report warns that crunch time is quickly approaching. One of its authors' primary recommendations is to reduce plastic pollution in the sea through the development of new biodegradable plastics and public awareness campaigns. They note that the UK, and indeed the wider world, needs to seriously reassess the way it manages the ocean.
Despite these staggering statistics, the UK government’s official press release remains remarkably chirpy with no mention of the word plastic or pollution, instead focusing on the “great opportunities” the UK could gain from the seas.
Just last week, a separate report claimed that “93 percent of the bottled water tested showed some sign of microplastic contamination,” featuring polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate. Once again, this is a direct result of plastic pollution and serves as a stark reminder that this problem affects us all, not just seabirds and fish.