Source reduction and mitigation of marine plastic pollution in the bahamas
Marine plastic pollution is perhaps the largest emerging threat to biodiversity on a global scale and it seems that no aquatic ecosystem is impervious to its incursions. It is currently estimated that up to 13 million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year, with production of single use commodities increasing, and poor waste management practices contributing to what can only be described as an environmental disaster.
Marine plastic pollution is not just an aesthetic issue. With an estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently floating in the world’s oceans, determining conservative estimates of the biological impacts is challenging, but it is thought that up to 200 species are affected by solid pollutants of anthropogenic origin including sea birds, mammals, turtles and fish. These plastics can entangle and ensnare as well as be ingested, not only creating blockages and perforations, but also leading to toxicity by persistent organic pollutants which have the potential to accumulate within food webs, with us - humans - at the top.
The Centre for Ocean Research and Education has partnered with The Bahamas Plastic Movement (BPM) in an effort to highlight plastic pollution in the region, and attempt to understand the mechanisms that are underpinning the incursion of plastics and other pollutants onto the shorelines of this, and other Caribbean nations. Through our partnership, we are creating an awareness of this issue within the communities of Eleuthera and driving citizen science and educational initiatives to highlight the need for responsible waste management practices, building capacity for communities to take control of this issue.
More specifically, CORE and the BPM are working on the long term monitoring of spatial and temporal patterns of the abundance and diversity of marine plastics recovered from beaches in Eleuthera and surrounding islands. In addition we are seeking funds to establish a new, two year citizen science study in assessing the potential for seagrass meadows as vectors for the accumulation of marine plastics.
Updates on this project can be found here and on our Instagram Page. Please contact us through our website for further information!