MEPs have called for further EU action on marine pollution as the issue becomes increasingly more substantial in the fisheries sector and public health.
According to studies carried out by the EU, only 1% of all plastic in the ocean is found floating on the surface. Most of it ends up in the deep sea, causing extreme and untold amounts of damage.
What’s more is that every day, 730 tonnes of waste is dumped directly into the Mediterranean Sea, whilst 11,200 tonnes of plastics dumped in the environment eventually find their way into the Mediterranean as well.
Considering that the average consumer of Mediterranean shellfish ingests around 11,000 fragments of plastic every year, the risks to one’s health as a result of marine pollution are both startling and unseen – the latter making this even more dangerous.
As such, MEPs have adopted a resolution that calls for an increase in the collection, recycling and upcycling in the fishery and aquaculture sectors, citing these as accountable for 27% of marine litter.
In tandem with this, they have also called for expanded polystyrene used in fishery products to be phased out as well.
Yet, marine litter does not only pose a huge risk to fishermen and consumers. Rather, MEPs stress that it also “poses a serious threat to a number of marine animal species”. This is the case due to what is known as ‘ghost nets’.
In the EU, only around 1.5% of fishing gear is currently recycled and some gear that is abandoned, lost or discarded at sea “remains active for months or even years”.
Known as ghost nets are responsible for indiscriminately damaging and harming all marine wildlife, including fish stocks.
Have you ever seen images of marine animals entangled in fishing wires or nets washing up on beaches or floating around? It is most likely the cause of ghost nets.
Parliament has demanded that the EU creates a proper action plan in order to substantially reduce the use of plastics and to tackle the pollution of rivers, watercourses and coastlines. Namely, highlight that 80% of marine waste originally comes from land.
“The fight against marine litter does not begin in the sea, but it must involve an upstream vision that encompasses the complete lifecycle of a product,” French MEP, Catherine Chabaud stated.
“To fight marine pollution, we must continue to promote virtuous business models and integrate new sectors like fisheries and aquaculture in these global efforts. There is no sustainable fishing without a healthy ocean.”
Fishing in Malta is a huge and crucial industry. It helps us export countless amounts of fish abroad, whilst also forms an immense part of our Mediterranean diet.
As such, this problem is particularly important for Malta. After all, it is no joke to think that whenever you are digging into some delicious, fresh fish you may have to contend with the thought of plastics entering your system.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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