Average plastic abundance in a Fulmar stomach (left of tweezers) and the equivalent amount of plastic at human stomach scale (right of tweezers). Photo: Jan van Franeker / IMARES, in Foresight Evidence Review: Plastic Pollution (2017)

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse
21 March 2018

(CNN) – Without intervention soon, the amount of plastic littering the world's oceans is expected to triple within a decade, a new UK government report warns.

The Foresight Future of the Sea report from the UK Government Office for Science said our oceans have seen "unprecedented change as a result of direct human activity and climate change."

It identified the rise of plastic in oceans, along with rising temperatures and sea levels and chemical pollution, as some of the biggest problems the marine environment faces.

The report found that 70% of marine litter is non-degradable plastic which is projected to increase threefold between 2015 and 2025.

    Experts suggested the government needed to be more strategic in its approach to the sea in order to successfully halt some of the long-term pollution issues.

    "The major response is likely to lie in preventing it from entering the sea, introducing new biodegradable plastics, and potentially public awareness campaigns about marine protection," the report said.

    The UK economy relies heavily on oceans with 95% of trade traveling by sea. The report also suggested that the UK had opportunities to capitalize on the "ocean economy" (sea-based industries), which it says could double in size by 2030 to $3 trillion.

    "Both the opportunities and the challenges set out in this important report are global in scale and demand our urgent attention," Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Tariq Ahmad said in a statement accompanying the report."We must keep pushing our scientific understanding of the oceans, harness new technologies, and support commercial innovation." [more]

    Ocean plastic predicted to triple within a decade

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