Coastal Experts Report Less Plastic Bags in Ocean Debris Since Local Bans

PROVINCETOWN – An official with the Center for Coastal Studies said local bans of plastic bags and single-use plastic water bottles have had an impact on ocean debris in the region.

“There are far fewer plastic bags in our collections, which is wonderful and we’re starting to see a decrease in the number of single-use plastic bottles as well,” said Laura Ludwig, Marine Debris and Plastic Program Director.

Ludwig said her department focuses more on outreach in the summer months while dedicating major cleanup efforts for the fall.

“It winds up being an exorbitant amount of trash. Last year we got 2,000 pounds in four days,” she said of cleaning up the National Seashore in 2021.

Ludwig also spoke about the risks of ocean debris on human health, including harmful microplastics that act as a target for chemicals and toxins in the water to latch onto.

“If that gets ingested by a shellfish or a lobster or a human when they accidentally swallow a mouthful of ocean water, those toxins are then transferred from the ocean to the creature,” she said.

Another risk from marine debris Ludwig cited is rusted lobster traps that can end up pushed on shore from storm action, though this isn’t as common on the Cape than it is in other coastal areas with rockier shorelines and sea floor.

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

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