Plastics: the main source of pollution in the marine environment


From August 20 to 23, Surfrider Foundation Europe will organise Ocean Pavilion. Four days of meetings preceding the G7 Summit in Biarritz, which will aim to integrate ocean conservation into diplomatic negotiations. Through conferences and round tables, Ocean Pavilion will focus on four central themes of ocean protection. Among them, the scourge of plastic and its impact on the Ocean, will be addressed during the third day (August 22nd) of this historic event.  

Stop ocean plastic pollution 

19 tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every minute. What we see on the surface is only 1% of the plastic pollution suffocating our environment. The other 99% degrades into microplastics which get swept out to deep sea or sink to the ocean floor. It is crucial that we understand the far-reaching impact of all plastic pollution, not just that which we see, including its origins and life cycle. The current plastic epidemic is due largely to its increased production and over-consumption.

It is estimated that in less than 30 years, the Ocean will contain more plastic than marine life. To curb this trend, it is essential to substitute plastic products with more environmentally friendly alternatives. These alternatives should be adopted by all actors, private and public, and promoted through conscious behaviours: refuse plastic, reduce personal consumption, when no other alternatives exist reuse and revalue it as a last resort.

Everyone must be part of the solution 

To stop this scourge, participatory science is one of the solutions used to raise awareness, encourage action and contribute to research influencing legislation. Carried out by the general public, or by professional sectors wishing to sensitize their collaborators, participatory science combines all the actions necessary for a general awareness. Essential in the field to clean up, analyse, and understand marine litter origins, but participatory science also facilitates data generation for lobbying initiatives, community engagement and supports a comprehensive awareness of the issue. 

It is through this civic impetus that we call on institutions and governments to take the initiative to drive change, as is in the case of the Single-Use Plastics Directive which was adopted earlier this year. One of the objectives set forth during Ocean Pavilion will be to highlight this participatory science approach and to discuss the different levers that could help fight against plastic proliferation in the ocean.

On the agenda for the day: ‘Stop plastic pollution at its source’, and ‘From citizen science to regulatory measures, monitoring and addressing macro and microplastic pollution’. Personalities from civil society, science and politics will be invited to speak. Both conferences will be streamed on Surfrider Europe YouTube Live. 

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