Author:  byline to Jennifer Gray (major contributor to article Dr. Robbie Smith)

This is the latest in a series to mark World Oceans Day which looks at how plastics and other pollutants are affecting the marine environment. Here, Bermuda Marine Debris Taskforce member Jennifer Gray explains how plastics enter the ocean and how it can be prevented

The presence of plastic material in all of the world’s oceans is not a new story to residents of Bermuda. Generations of us have grown up with it, whether we are 60, 16 or 6.

Plastic waste is an inescapable fact of our island life, either stranded on our beaches or floating in our waters. It arrives on our shores almost daily in small to very large quantities. We clean up the mess individually, with our families, with friends or in KBB clean-ups.

Scientists, civil servants, non-governmental organisations and volunteers here and around the Atlantic have been busy studying the scope of the problem for the past 15 years. We have a pretty clear understanding that 80 per cent of the plastic in the ocean comes from land, either blown from coastlines or washing down rivers to the ocean. The other 20 per cent of plastic comes from the gear and equipment lost or discarded from the thousands of ships and fishing vessels at work in the Atlantic. We also see lost cargo items escaping from containers that fall off ships during storms. It is likely that the amount of ocean plastic debris will continue to increase, as we use too many plastic items and they inevitably escape our waste management systems.

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