Recent studies on the amount and nature of plastic that is ending up in the ocean, as well as the ecosystem and health impacts associated with this modern source of pollution have caused an increase in public awareness of the issue and concern about how to tackle it. Eighty percent of plastic that ends up in the ocean is getting there through land-based sources. In a world that produces 300 million tons of plastic per year and about eight million tons of that ending up the ocean, from where it is almost impossible to retrieve, the issue of plastic pollution has become a global concern (Ocean Atlas 2017). The solution to the majority of plastic pollution in the ocean starts on land, and while we are only just coming to terms with the scale of the problem, we are also looking for innovative, collaborative solutions.
The United States Consulate General, in partnership with the South African Maritime Safety Authority, the International Ocean Institute – African Region, the V&A Waterfront, and Operation Phakisa, held a public discussion on international, regional and local perspectives on ocean sustainability, with a focus on mitigating plastics pollution.
This forum on plastic marine debris is intended as one of many opportunities for decision makers and experts to get together to discuss solutions and mitigation measures to prevent plastic reaching our oceans, as stakeholders begin to realise the urgency of this issue. It is anticipated that this will be the first of many structured discussions that allow for effective engagement amongst the public, academics and government stakeholders on a variety of marine and maritime subjects. The report is available here: Plastic Pollution in Our Oceans