Swimming in oceans of plastic

Human garbage can cause harm to wildlife


Reported by Rena Medow and Christina Dommer

The problem of plastic in oceans is pressing and needs greater action, said visitors to the Vancouver Aquarium.

Wildlife can consume human garbage if it’s in their habitat, such as what happened with a pregnant whale that washed up on a shore in Italy. Veterinarians and scientists opened her up to find almost 50 pounds of plastic in her stomach.

“It sits in their stomach when they eat it,” said Catherine, a visitor to the aquarium from England. “And they haven’t got enough room for proper food to keep them alive.”

Environment minister Catherine McKenna announced that a federal strategy to combat plastic pollution would be coming in June. According to a 2018 study published in Nature magazine, there is enough plastic in the Pacific Ocean to cover the country of France three times over. A survey by the Angus Reid Forum in March revealed that out of a sample of 1,500 Canadians, nine out of 10 respondents were concerned or very concerned about plastic in oceans.

Photo by Rena Medow

The Vancouver Aquarium is also the headquarters of Ocean Wise, an initiative widely known for encouraging food producers, restaurants, and markets to responsibly source their seafood. Ocean Wise also aims to educate the public about the role of oceans in environmental protection.

Mary, another aquarium visitor from England said that the United Kingdom is taking bold strides to protect the oceans.

“We’ve been learning about all of the plastic that we use,” said Mary, a 13-year-old visitor. “It does not ‘go away’, it just goes straight to the ocean.”



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