December 31, 2010

Plastic Found Floating Around In The Mediterranean

According to research supported by green campaigners, about 250 billion microscopic pieces of plastic are floating in the Mediterranean, creating a biological hazard that reverberates up the food chain.

French and Belgian marine biologists who analyzed water samples in July from France, northern Italy and Spain performed the research.

"The rough estimate is that there are roughly 250 billion pieces of micro-debris in all the Mediterranean," Francois Galgani, of the French Institute for Exploration of the Sea (Ifremer), said in a statement.

Galgani told the AFP news agency that the figure derives from 4,371 minute pieces of plastic found in the samples, "which extrapolates to roughly 500 tons for the entire Mediterranean."

Ninety percent of the samples the volunteers from Expedition MED took had such fragments.

The sampling only covered surface waters and is a preliminary evaluation.  More samples will be taken in 2011 from Gibraltar, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Sardinia and southern Italy.

Expedition MED said that micro-sized plastic is an enduring hazard, as it becomes mixed with plankton, which is then ingurgitated by small fish that are then eaten by larger predators.

It said that there is an accumulating pile of evidence of damage that this does to larger forms of marine life like seals and tortoises.

"The only solution is to stop micro-debris at the sources," Expedition MED's Bruno Dumontet said in a statement.

The group is launching an online petition to demand tougher European Union rules on the disposal and biodegradability of consumer goods.


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