Plastic is Suffocating Oceans
An unusual and sad sight greeted the people of Sotra in Norway this month, as a rare goose-beaked whale repeatedly beached on the island shoreline. The stricken animal eventually had to be put down, leading to a grizzly find that, according to Nor-Shipping Director Birgit Liodden, should act as a wake-up call to spur society into action.
“This beautiful two-ton animal was on the brink of death as its stomach was full, but devoid of nutrition,” she states. “Instead of food it had eaten a variety of rubbish, including some 30 plastic bags which had clogged its digestive system.”
Researchers have since suggested that it may have believed these bags were squid, a usual part of this species’ diet.
“The result was a slow and painful death,” said Liodden, “and a sad snapshot of the state of our global waters. It has been estimated that there are over five trillion pieces of plastic garbage currently polluting our ocean habitats. This is not a problem that will simply take care of itself. We need to look at innovative ways to address it before we reach an inevitable tipping point.”
Liodden pointed to Boyan Slat and his Ocean Cleanup initiative, the winner of the Young Entrepreneur Award at Nor-Shipping 2015, as an example of how the issue can be tackled head on.
“We need this kind of innovation,” she said. “New thinking, from a new generation, to address the biggest challenges facing the maritime industry, and the world as a whole.”
Slat’s plan to use a passive system, driven by ocean currents, to capture and remove floating plastic waste. “What we need now is more ideas and, crucially, more action from talented people from within and without the maritime industries,” said Liodden. “We can all effect positive change if we set our minds to it, helping to build a better marine and maritime environment for the future. The ideas are as limitless as our imaginations. It’s time to think big.”
Nor-Shipping 2017 takes place in Oslo and Lillestrøm, Norway, from May 30 to June 2, 2017.
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