Plastic pollution in Great Pacific Garbage Patch much worse than thought

A team of Dutch researchers has found that a large area of the Pacific ocean known as “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has become a vast waste dump, with far more floating plastic pollution than was previously known.

The research, published in Nature, characterised and quantified a major ocean plastic accumulation zone formed in subtropical waters between California and Hawaii: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP).

The model, calibrated with data from multi-vessel and aircraft surveys, predicted that at least 79 (45–129) thousand tonnes of ocean plastic are floating inside an area of 1.6 million km2; a figure four to sixteen times higher than previously reported.

Over three-quarters of the GPGP mass was carried by debris larger than 5 cm and at least 46% was comprised of fishing nets. Microplastics accounted for 8% of the total mass but 94% of the estimated 1.8 (1.1–3.6) trillion pieces floating in the area.

The results suggest that ocean plastic pollution within the GPGP is increasing exponentially and at a faster rate than in surrounding waters.

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