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Ocean plastics mostly come from merchant ships, study says

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Ocean plastics mostly come from merchant ships, study says

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2019 (AFP) – Most of the bottles that end up on the shore of the small Unreachable Island, named after its location in the middle of the South Atlantic, were probably launched by Chinese merchant ships, a study published on Monday concluded.

This work is further proof that the floating islands of plastic waste in the middle of the oceans, whose images scandalized public opinion, would be formed with bottles and other single-use items thrown into nature and streams not so much by consumers of these products, but fishing and maritime industries, which release tons of plastic at sea.

The authors of the article published in the American journal PNAS compared thousands of waste collected during visits to the small island in 1984, 2009 and 2018.

Although initially most of the bottles on Inaccessible Island had inscriptions showing that they came from South America, carried by the currents from these coasts up to 3,000 km to the west, in 2018 three quarters came from Asia, mainly from China.

Many of these PET bottles have been crushed with their screw caps as they do on space-saving boats, says lead author Peter Ryan of the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Manufacturing dates were recent, 90% in the two years prior to publication, excluding those that traveled from the Asian coast, where the garbage route lasts between three and five years.

And as the number of Asian fishing vessels has remained stable since the 1990s, while the number of Asian and mainly Chinese merchant vessels has increased significantly in the Atlantic, the researchers conclude that all of these bottles come from merchant vessels, which discard them instead. to take them back to earth.

"There is no other explanation: they come from vessels and not from coastal lands," Peter Ryan told AFP. "Part of the merchant fleet seems to be responsible, and apparently it is the Asian fleet," he said.

It is therefore necessary to differentiate between two types of marine pollution.

On the one hand, the beaches around the main urban centers. The plastic found there comes from the coastlines: bottles, bags and plastic packaging. But these light objects flow easily and are less dragged by currents.

Further into the oceans, the waste vortices contain fragments of objects of uncertain origin, as well as articles used by the merchant marine and fishing vessels: not only the bottles consumed on board, but also nets, ropes, buoys and boxes, among others. others.

ico / cjc / llu / db

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