Plastic Pollution Good Reason to Stop Industrial Fishing: Fish with Ingested Plastic on Dinner Plates Around the World

The most compelling argument to stop industrial fishing, because overfishing is wiping out species, is followed in a close second by the fact that seafood products around the world are polluted by plastic microfibers, which absorb chemical pollutants, that have entered the fish via their act of having them in their stomachs and intestines.

Recent studies have shown that fish all over world are in bad health from plastic pollution and they all too often end up being consumed by humans. If this puts you off your favorite weekly sushi dinner, that is good because other studies show about half of the sushi eaten is not what the patron ordered and often can have adverse physical effects on consumers, temporary in the form of diarrhea and long term, who knows?

Turtle ensnared in fishing nets drown all over the world.

Since the 1950s plastic has been dumped in the oceans and now massive amounts of the degraded and broken down polymers can be found all over the oceans, from top to bottom. Huge gyres gather in the middle of the oceans from currents and heavy plastic sinks to the bottom and degrades slowly over time. Photo degradation, from sunlight, is how we get the microfibers of plastic that populates the waves.  

This gives the world two amazingly good reasons to ban industrial fishing on the high seas for decades if not permanently. Protein replacements for fish can easily be found and this will give us humans a chance to clean up the oceans while fish stocks recover in sufficient numbers for further study and possible fishing on a limited basis. And plastic pollution might be the least of the dangerous chemicals found in the flesh of a food source so highly for prized “health benefits,” think mercury and other heavy metals dispensed by offending nations such as China and India.

Logo of Global High Seas Marine Preserve. The Global High Seas Marine Preserve, founded by Danny Quintana, author of Space and Ocean Exploration: The Alternative to the Military-Industrial Complex, advocates establishment of the preserve to ban industrial and commercial fishing in international waters. His mission came from the research done during the writing of Space and Ocean Exploration and was motivated mainly from the plight of overfished species.  

Here is a short list of effects of plastic:

  1. Plastic is so durable that the EPA reports “every bit of plastic ever made still exists.” 
  2. Fish in the North Pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can cause intestinal injury and death and transfers plastic up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals. A recent study found that a quarter of fish at markets in California contained plastic in their guts, mostly in the form of plastic microfibers.
  3. In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments — like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles — are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day.
  4. Seabirds that feed on the ocean surface tend to ingest plastic debris that floats. The adults then feed these items to their chicks, who then fail to thrive — and very often die. One study found that 98 percent of Laysan Albatross chicks had been fed plastic in some form.
  5. Multiple whales and dolphins have been found washed up on shores, their stomachs full of plastic bags and other debris.
  6. A startling amount of dead sea turtles — 50 to 80 percent — have been found to have ingested plastic debris.
  7. About 640,000 tons of abandoned fishing nets are responsible for snaring and drowning thousands of marine animals per year, including seals, sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, dugongs, crocodiles, seabirds, crabs and other creatures.

China’s coastal waters are not only fished out but an environmental disaster, which is why their massive fleet of fishing trawlers set out to violate the territorial waters of countries with little or no ability to fight the incursions. Shark finning, which kills upwards of 100-millions sharks annually, is because of demand in China for Shark Fin Soup while Japan is also a major contributor to the disappearance of major predator species like tuna and whales.

Beaches all over the world have become the end point of plastic travels and it is a most depressing site indeed.

Help the Global High Seas Marine Preserve ban industrial fishing so that the oceans might be saved from total destruction by going to www.SavingOceans.org.