Plastic pollution in Mediterranean Sea threatens the health of our ocean

Posted on 08 June 2018

Record levels of pollution from microplastics are threatening marine species, fisheries activities and human health.
Brussels, Belgium - 8 June 2018
A new report from the WWF finds record levels of pollution from microplastics in the Mediterranean Sea are now higher than those in the oceanic ‘garbage patches’ and are threatening marine species, fisheries activities and human health in the region.

Launched to coincide with World Oceans Day, the report titled Out of the Plastic Trap: Saving the Mediterranean from plastic pollution presents a detailed roadmap of the urgent action needed to stop plastic waste from reaching the sea.

The report brings together the most recent data on plastic use in Europe and scientific evidence on the many ways in which it negatively impacts marine life. Plastic represents 95% of the waste in Mediterranean waters and on its beaches today, with over 130 different marine species known to have ingested plastic. Not only are the consequences of marine litter severe for wildlife, but there are significant economic consequences. The EU fishing fleet currently suffers an estimated annual economic loss of € 61.7 million due to reduced catch and damage to vessels.

Samantha Burgess, Head of Marine Policy at WWF European Policy Office said: “It is urgent to address plastic waste and marine litter in European seas and the Mediterranean presents an especially critical example. As we’ve seen with the Commission’s recently released proposal on restricting single-use plastic, authorities are now taking action on plastic waste; but if this action fails to be ambitious enough or occur quickly enough, the harmful impacts to wildlife and European fisheries will continue to escalate. Ultimately, global challenges such as marine litter require a global solution. We encourage the EU and its Member States to support the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) process to eliminate plastic leakage into our marine environments and adopt a “Paris Agreement” for Our Ocean.”

Europe (EU-28, Norway and Switzerland) is the world’s second largest plastic producer after China. In 2016, it produced 60 million tonnes of plastic, generating 27 million tonnes of plastic waste. WWF is urging governments to adopt of a legally-binding international agreement to eliminate plastic discharge into the oceans, supported by strong national targets to achieve 100 per cent plastic waste recycled and reusable by 2030 and national bans on single-use plastic items such as bags.

Click here to read the full report.