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More Plastic Than Fish in Our Oceans by 2050 – UN Report

30th April 2018
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Plastic pollution is affecting marine life in even the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean Plastic pollution is affecting marine life in even the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean Photo: Deeper Blue

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has warned there will be more plastic waste in our oceans than fish by 2050, according to a UN report.

The Ireland South MEP gave the stark warning as she addressed the European Parliament on the urgent need to tackle plastic pollution.

Ms Ní Riada, who sits on the EU Fisheries Committee, said we all had to take responsibility for the problem, citing Ireland as one of the worst polluting offenders.

“Plastic pollution is affecting marine life in even the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean,” she said.

“Almost three quarters of a sample of more than 230 deep water fish collected by NUI Galway scientists had ingested plastic particles.

“However, it's important we recognise that it is not the fisheries that are solely responsible for this but they are part of the answer. Indeed, fisheries were, in my view, the first environmentalists; they had to be in order to maintain and sustain a living.

“We have to tackle this issue now, as a matter of urgency. Already we have seen reports predicting that there will be more plastic waste than fish in our oceans by 2050.

“To treat this as anything other than an emergency is to condemn future generations to dying oceans and a corrupted environment.

“The issue, like the oceans it's affecting, can seem so vast that it is beyond our ability to act but there are practical solutions that we can apply.

“Education, for example, is key in this and the Polluter Pays Principle has to come into effect.

“Manufacturers must take responsibility and ownership of the fact that they are producing these vast amounts of plastic, be it nets or be it in the ordinary every day use of things like plastic bottles.

“We all use plastic on so many different levels and we all have to be individually responsible for our own use but if we are to begin undoing the damage that we have cause to our oceans then manufacturers must play a key role.

“Looking at the extension of initiatives such as the Litter Scheme may also help. Incentivising fisheries to grab in the ghost nets is a positive move but we should examine extending that a bit further and invest more in our fisheries to try and incentivise them to gather up plastic as they're fishing.

“We also need to look at plastic recycling and how that feeds into the circular economy.

“There are many positive things in today's report. I look forward to examining it and putting forward some of my own amendments.

“But let there be no doubt about how big this issue is and how crucial it is that we all accept our responsibility in having contributed to it.

“For example, I'm ashamed to say that Ireland is one of the top polluters and that's not a record that we're proud of.

“As an Irish person, as an Irish MEP I am more than willing to get stuck into this issue to see can we tackle it once and for all, both the existing problem and the future problems that its going to cause.”

Afloat.ie Team

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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