Recently released UN report warns of impact of ocean litter on wildlife


More than 100,000 migratory birds have arrived at Nansha Wetland Park in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong Province since early December 2019, making it a scenic must-see place to observe the province’s wild birds. from the south in winter. Photo: Chinese Press Service

From endangered freshwater dolphins drowned in abandoned fishing nets to elephants rummaging in garbage, migratory species are among the most vulnerable to plastic pollution, a UN report on the Asia region said on Tuesday. -Pacific, calling for more measures to reduce waste.

Plastic particles have seeped into even the most remote and seemingly pristine regions of the planet, with tiny fragments found inside fish in the deepest recesses of the ocean and dotting the arctic sea ice.

The United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) document focused on the impacts of plastic on freshwater species in rivers and on terrestrial animals and birds, who, according to researchers, were often overlooked, victims of humanity’s growing waste crisis.

He said that because these creatures encounter different environments, including industrialized and polluted areas, they are likely more exposed to plastics and associated contaminants.

The researchers cited estimates that 80% of the plastic that ends up in the oceans comes from the land, with rivers playing a key role in transporting debris to the sea.

The report comes days before a major summit of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“So far the focus has been on cleaning up our oceans, but it’s already too late in the process. We need to focus on upstream solutions and prevention of plastic pollution.

The UN report highlights two regions, the Ganges and Mekong river basins, which together contribute around 200,000 tonnes of plastic pollution to the Indian and Pacific Oceans each year. Discarded fishing gear has proven to be a major threat.

Dolphins can get entangled and become trapped underwater by old nets, with the Irrawaddy and Ganges dolphins particularly at risk.

The report also states that migratory seabirds, such as black-footed albatrosses and Laysan albatrosses, may not be able to distinguish plastic from prey as they fly over the ocean and may accidentally eat fish. floating debris. This means that plastic could build up in their bowels or be passed on to their chicks when they regurgitate food for them, he said.

On land, Asian elephants have also been seen swimming in landfills in Sri Lanka and eating plastic in Thailand, the report notes.

The report highlights that Asia-Pacific species face a host of threats, including habitat loss, overfishing, industrial pollution and climate change.

“Even though plastic pollution is not the most important of these stressors, it can add additional stress to already vulnerable populations,” he said.

He called for strategies to prevent plastic from being released into the environment, to reduce waste through better design, and to step up efforts to understand the effects of pollution on migratory species.


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