Slide 16 -
Plastic Debris Eighty percent of marine debris is plastic - a component that has been rapidly accumulating since the end of World War II. The mass of plastic in the oceans may be as high as one hundred million metric tons.
Discarded plastic bags, six pack rings and other forms of plastic waste which finish up in the ocean present dangers to wildlife and fisheries.
Aquatic life can be threatened through entanglement, suffocation, and ingestion.
Fishing nets, usually made of plastic, can be left or lost in the ocean by fishermen. Known as ghost nets, these entangle fish, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, dugongs, crocodiles, seabirds, crabs, and other creatures, restricting movement, causing starvation, laceration and infection, and, in those that need to return to the surface to breathe, suffocation.
Plastic debris, when bulky or tangled, is difficult to pass, and may become permanently lodged in the digestive tracts of these animals, blocking the passage of food and causing death through starvation or infection.