Today almost every group of marine species has come into contact with plastic, with negative if not devastating effects in 90% of the species Daria Angeletti
(Ansa / archvio)
Rome, waste and plastic in the sea and on the beach
Among the 10 most polluting cities for the plastic of the Mediterranean basin as many as 5 are Italian: Rome (which holds the absolute primacy), Milan , Turin , Palermo and Genoa .
Overall every year 229 thousand tons of plastics end up in the Mediterranean: it is as if every day 500 containers dumped their contents into the water. More than half of this plastic comes from just 3 countries: 32% from Egypt, 15% from Italy and 10% from Turkey.
And what emerges from the WWF Report entitled “Plastic pollution in the oceans. Impacts on marine species, biodiversity and ecosystems ” , which analyzes over 2,500 studies on plastic pollution in the seas, with a focus on the Mediterranean.
In the Report, the WWF launches an appeal in view of the next United Nations Assembly for the Environment – Unea (February 28-March 2), to adopt a legally binding global treaty .
(Ansa / archive)
Rome, waste and plastic in the sea and on the beach of FiumicinoPlastic in the Mediterranean: a serious threat to its fragile marine ecosystems
It is estimated that over one million tons of plastic are currently present in the Mediterranean , with maximum concentrations of around 10.4 kg per km2. These are quantities similar to those found in oceanic plastic islands.
It has been calculated that between 21% and 54% of all global microplastics (equivalent to 5-10% of the mass of global microplastics) are found in the Mediterranean.
The Tyrrhenian Sea reaches a sad record: its waters contain the highest concentration of microplastics ever measured in the depths of a marine environment : 1.9 million fragments per square meter.
The main source of plastic input into the sea are coastal activities and inefficient waste management , which further worsens in the summer due to the increase in tourist flows and related recreational activities. This is followed (with 22%) by activities at sea which, with fishing, aquaculture and navigation , disperse pots, nets and crates for transporting fish.
(Ansa / archive)
Fishing boats in Fiumicino (Rome) The continuous fragmentation of plastics at sea multiplies threats to the environment
Even if the global dispersion of plastic in nature were eliminated today, warns the WWF, there is a“Long tail” of microplastics: their concentration in 2050 would still be double compared to the current one .
The maximum tolerable limit of microplastic pollution, beyond which significant ecological risks exist, has already been exceeded in several places in the world, including the Mediterranean , eastern China, the Yellow Sea and Arctic sea ice. Here are some global macrodata:

  • 8 billion tons and the weight of all the plastic present in the seas and oceans of the Earth
  • and double the total weight of land and sea animals combined (4 billion tons)
  • 60% of all plastic ever produced has become waste and is accumulating in landfills or in the natural environment, especially in the oceans

Plastic Pollution Plastic pollution causes damage to marine life through various mechanisms . Trapping, ingestion, suffocation and release of toxic chemicals are the main adverse consequences on marine life.
The smallest plastic particles, when ingested, can pass through the tissues reaching even the brains of marine animals causing neurotoxicity phenomena.
At least 116 animal species living in the Mediterranean have ingested plastic:

  • 59% are bony fish, many of which end up on our tables, such as sardines, mullets, sea bream, cod, anchovies, tuna
  • the remaining 41% consists of other marine animals such as mammals, crustaceans, molluscs, jellyfish, turtles and birds.

A whale, for example, filters 700,000 liters of water every time it opens its mouth, taking on an enormous amount of plastics and microplastics that have a high concentration of pollutants. So much so that in some mystical mammals living in the Mediterranean (whales, fin whales, humpback whales and other species) the levels of persistent organic pollutants or plastic additives, such as phthalates, are 4 or 5 times higher than those of whales living in less contaminated the planet.
Balena Pollution of the food chain and plastics in our dishes
More and more plastic is ingested by marine organisms and can go up the food chain, up to our plates .
The WWF Report denounces that the annual intake of microplastics by humans through the consumption of marine animals and about 53,000 microplastics :

  • up to 27 thousand microplastics from molluscs,
  • up to 17 thousand from crustaceans,
  • up to 8 thousand from fish.

Microplastics have been found in the following fish from the western Mediterranean:

  • 23% of mullet and cod from 3 different Mediterranean fishing areas,
  • 58% of sardines,
  • 60% of anchovies.

Growing concern is also linked to nanoplastics and the potential damage they can cause, but about which very little is known.
Fish market (Denmark) Solving the root problem
According to the WWF, the causes of plastic pollution must be identified upstream and the introduction of plastic waste into the environment must be prevented, also including the reduction of plastic production . This is a much more effective approach than cleaning up the environment afterwards.
Furthermore, a legally binding international treaty is urgently needed , containing specific, clear rules and obligations applicable globally throughout the life cycle of plastics., in order to allow effective responses to the global crisis due to plastic pollution. And so the WWF is calling on governments around the world to join an international treaty that should include :

  • a clear vision on the elimination of direct and indirect dispersion of plastics in nature,
  • the obligation to have plans for the removal of plastics in the environment,
  • banning those plastic products that pose a particular risk to the environment, such as single-use plastics and microplastics intentionally added to products,
  • explicit bans on dumping plastic waste into rivers and inland waters,
  • measurement of discharges of plastic waste and the progress made in their elimination,
  • the establishment of a specialized and inclusive international scientific body,
  • global financial and technical agreement and technology transfer assistance, to support the effective implementation of the treaty by all countries.
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