Alarm in Mediterranean Sea over high plastic concentration

04 October, 16:53

    MILAN - The high level of pollution in the Mediterranean Sea due to microplastics (small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long) is sounding a warning bell on a worldwide level. According to figures released in 2016 by Nature Scientific Reports from researchers with Italy's Institute of Marine Sciences (ISMAR) and the National Research Council (CNR), there are 1.2 million microplastics per square kilometre in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the highest concentrations in the world. This still little-known global alarm was discussed on the second day of the One Ocean Forum, an international ocean-sustainability event created by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and held in Milan. "The concentration of microplastics in the Meditteranean Sea is at the same level of concentrations in the large ocean vortexes," said Maria Cristina Fossi, professor of Ecology and Ecotoxicology at the University of Siena.
    "It's a priority topic because it's one of the most impacted areas of the world, in fact, it's a closed sea," she said.
    Microplastics harm marine biodiversity because they can be ingested by fish who mistake them for food and fish can also become trapped in them, she said.
    "Microplastics have physical characteristics by which they absorb pollutants on the surface of the sea and leave behind plastic additives, physically damaging the tissue of that with which they come into contact and transporting pathogens. They impact everything from plankton to large marine organisms such as whales," she said.
    Scientists are researching whether plastics can also damage tissue, and consequently humans, who eat fish. "We need to create a series of targeted mitigating actions, from reducing the use of plastic to recycling and recovering material, to the circular economy," Fossi said.
    "The younger generations will have to manage this situation".

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