Plastic, metal, and glass contaminate every marine habitat – from beaches to the deep sea – yet there is insufficient research focused on the impacts of this marine debris. Without demonstrative evidence, decision-makers have been unable or unwilling to employ existing laws in order to effectively manage the waste and contamination.
In a new systematic review of existing literature, published in Ecology, the NCEAS Marine Debris Working Group explored the extent to which existing data demonstrate ecological impacts caused by marine debris. They concluded that sufficient evidence does exist to label marine debris, particularly plastics, as an environmental hazard. The authors suggest that there is sufficient evidence for decision-makers to begin mitigating the problem caused by marine debris. While the researchers do agree that there is a need to improve in the quantity and quality of research about the ecological impacts of marine debris, they claim that it should not be a deterrent to the development of marine debris mitigation plans.
The ecological impact of marine debris: unraveling the demonstrated evidence from what is perceived
Chelsea M. Rochman, Mark Anthony Browne, A. J. Underwood, Jan A. van Franeker, Richard C. Thompson, Linda A. Amaral-Zettler
Ecology, online 10/1/2015
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