414 million pieces of plastic found on remote island group in Indian Ocean

Debris on Cocos( Keeling) Islands was mostly bottles, cutlery, suitcases and straws, but also included 977,000 shoes, study says

On the beaches of the tiny Cocos( Keeling) Islands, population 600, marine scientists saw 977,000 shoes and 373,000 toothbrushes.

A comprehensive survey of debris on the islands- among the most remote places on Earth, in the Indian Ocean- has observed a staggering quantity of rubbish washed ashore. This included 414 m pieces of plastic, weighing 238 tonnes.

The study, published in the journal Nature, concluded the volume of dusts points to the exponential increase of global plastic polluting the world’s oceans and” highlights a worrying tendency in the production and discharge of single-use products “.

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The lead author, Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania’s Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, said remote islands without large populations were the most effective indicator of the amount of plastic rubbles floating in the oceans.

” Islands such as these are like canaries in a coal mine and it’s increasingly urgent that we act on the warns they are giving us. Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in our oceans, and remote islands are an ideal place to get an objective view of the volume of plastic debris now circling countries around the world ,” Lavers said.

The study detected the quantity of debris buried up to 10 cm beneath the beach was 26 times greater than the amount visible; that previous surveys that merely assessed surface garbage might have” drastically underestimated the scale of debris accumulation “.

Microplastics
Microplastics on the beaches of South Island of the Coco( Keeling) Islands. Photograph: Cara Ratajczak

Lavers resulted a previous study, be made available in 2017, that discovery the remote Henderson Island in the eastern South Pacific was among the places most affected by plastic pollution .

While most of the dusts found on Henderson Island was fishing-related, on the Cocos( Keeling) Islands, the plastic was mostly single-use items such as bottles, plastic cutlery, suitcases and straws.

” Our excessive and unrelenting demand for plastics, coupled with ineffective policy and waste management, has resulted in myriad negative effects on marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments, including entanglement and ingestion of rubbles, and subsequent exposure to plastic-associated chemicals ,” the report said.

” The Cocos( Keeling) Islands[ are] touted as’ Australia’s last unspoilt paradise ‘, with tourism a primary source of income for the local community. However, the impact of debris on tourism and[ their] beaches is increasingly difficult to avoid.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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