July 18, 2018
5 trillion pieces of plastic are currently floating in the ocean. What are we doing to stop it?
The Pacific Ocean, which stretches 62.46 million square miles, is facing a big problem. And it’s not just one problem, but multiple issues from all different fronts that are collectively threatening the earth’s largest body of water.
What’s Hurting the Pacific Ocean?
With viral news and unlimited access to information via the internet, you’ve probably at least heard of a few things that are hurting the Pacific Ocean, such as:
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). It’s the ocean’s largest accumulation of plastic ever that stretches between Hawaii and California, with an estimated 1.6 million square kilometer surface area. Just when you thought things couldn’t get bigger than in Texas, that’s twice the size of the Lone Star State.
- Overfishing. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, over 70% of the world’s fish species have been exploited or depleted. Translation – we’re catching fish faster than they can reproduce, which is messing up the entire ecosystem of species living in the water.
- Pollution. Sewage, toxic dumping, spills and urban run-off has caused a perfect storm for disaster to the Pacific Ocean.
- Climate change. Ocean acidification and warming are a major concern for the ocean. Rising sea levels, extreme weather intensity and habitat shifts have resulted from climate change.
What’s Fixing One of the Biggest Problems on the Planet?
With so many different threats to such a vast body of water, it may seem intimidating to know how and where to start to fix the problem. But help is on the way. Here are the top initiatives that are addressing the major issues the ocean is currently facing.
Using technology to make things better has never been more relevant when it comes to cleaning up the ocean’s plastics and pollution. The world’s first Ocean Cleanup machine set out this summer to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s made up of 40 ft. pipes that will float on the surface of the Pacific and is expected to collect half of the plastic patch within five years. As for chemical pollution, robots are being tasked to do the job that humans can’t. Off the coast of Japan, a 9.0 earthquake caused mass destruction surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011. Since then, the area has been a breeding ground for advancing robot technologies that are working to inspect radioactive reactors. Ultimately, these robots will eventually remove melted fuel and stop further pollution into the water.
Rethink Plastic Movement
Rethink Plastic is a global movement that drives actionable change towards reducing the amount of plastic we use daily. The campaign works to raise awareness of the impact plastics have on the ocean and the overall environment. Through film, education programs and various projects, #RethinkPlastic calls for a solution to the massive plastic problem that is harming the ocean.
Implementation of Marine Protected Areas
Overfishing is being addressed by an increasing amount of marine protected areas. These areas are fully protected parts of the ocean that are deemed “no-take” zones to varying degrees. The hope is that by implementing more marine protected areas, marine species are given the chance to repopulate and counter the damage overfishing poses on the ocean’s ecosystem and its negative effect of decreasing marine biodiversity.
The first step in saving the Pacific Ocean from threats of pollution, plastics, climate change and overfishing is raising awareness. With a better understanding of the impacts human-assisted practices can have on the water and the life within, change can begin. And these initiatives are moving the ocean in the right direction, one wave at a time.