10 Apr 2019 - An article published in Marine Pollution Bulletin takes a first step at calculating the cost of marine plastic pollution and finds that all ecosystem services are impacted by marine plastic pollution to at least some extent. The authors warn that reduction in ecosystem service provision will have negative impacts on human health and well-being, and recommends a global transition in the way the world makes, uses and reuses plastic.
The article titled, ‘Global Ecological, Social and Economic Impacts of Marine Plastic,’ synthesizes currently available research to conduct a global assessment of the “ecological, ecosystem service” and social and economic impacts of marine plastic, including examining the drivers, sources and distribution of marine plastics. The assessment finds that the presence of marine plastic impacts all ecosystem services and reduces the provision predicted for all these ecosystem services, with one exception (“regulation of the chemical condition of salt waters by living processes”). In particular, the article identifies the negative impacts of marine plastic pollution on three critical ecosystem services: provision of fisheries, aquaculture and materials for agricultural use; heritage, or the cultural and emotional importance to individuals of charismatic marine organisms, such as turtles; and experiential recreation, with visitors choosing to spend less time in recreational areas with litter or being exposed to sharp debris or unsanitary items. The authors further caution that shifts in biodiversity and an altered marine environment can lead to additional impacts, including impairing ecosystem recovery and resilience.
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