With the possibility of there being more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has launched a new campaign called #CleanSeas. The innovative was launched late last week as a declaration of war on Ocean Plastic. This war is intended to end marine plastic pollution through regulation on cosmetics and single use plastic products.
A war that is much needed thanks to the fair chance that in the year 2050 99% of Seabirds will have ingested some form of plastic. This is possible because each year 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean which has led to 80% of marine debris being plastic-based. A lot of this plastic ends up on coastlines all over the world which makes this a pressing issue for Cape Cod.
One organization that is trying to tackle this particular issue is the Ocean Conservancy. They conduct an international beach cleanup each year through their Trash Free Seas Program that not only reduces the chance of having plastic return to the ocean environment, but tallies what plastic has been coming out of it! Plastic bottles, caps and straws are just three out of the top five items found on these clean ups which is why the UN’s innovative to end single use plastics is so important (Ocean Conservancy).
UNEP hopes to tackle its #CleanSeas goal by 2022 which seems probable because there are already 10 nations on board, as well as, DELL Computers and numerous international celebrities (UN Environment). However, the major challenge is shifting individual consumer culture away from single use plastics. To do this #CleanSeas has set up a commitment campaign that encourages people to pledge to use plastic free cosmetics and to stray away from single use plastic products. Committing is easy, go to http://cleanseas.org/
While international efforts continue to grow on the issue of Ocean Plastic there are steps being taken right here on the Cape to make the community plastic-free. Last October at the Wellfleet Oyster Festival there were multiple talks on Marine Debris that featured organizations like the Ocean Conservancy, NOAA, 5 Gyres and the Center for Coastal Studies. In just a few days Pleasant Bay Community Boating is screening A Plastic Ocean in Chatham, a documentary about the impacts of marine debris.
This summer as part of Ocean Protection Advocacy Kids, Inc. (OPAK) four week summer program, students ages 10-12 will get the chance to learn about marine debris and reasons to advocate for a cleaner ocean and therefore cleaner Cape beaches. OPAK has already committed to the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative and plans to make a strong commitment to the #CleanSeas campaign in a hope to broaden the scope of their education program. They believe that their students deserve to not only be a part of the local movement away from marine debris, but part of the global commitment to stray away from single use plastics.
To learn more about the initial UNEP Press Release, go to: http://web.unep.org/newscentre/un-declares-war-ocean-plastic (UN Environment)
To learn more about the Ocean Conservancy, go to: http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/marine-debris/
To learn more about the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative, go to: http://coastalstudies.org/ccccc/
To learn more about OPAK’s summer program, go to: http://www.opakedu.org
Written by Jeffrey Morgan, Executive Director of OPAK